A Houston firefighter is being reprimanded for misconduct that led to the death of a mother and daughter.
On Feb. 15 2021, while Texas was experiencing a massive winter storm, Shalemu Bekele, his wife Etenesh Mersha and their two children were exposed to carbon monoxide when Mersha started her car in the garage to keep warm and charge her phone, KERA news reported.
Mersha had been on the phone with a friend when she stopped responding. The friend alerted relatives who then called authorities. Firefighters arrived to the family’s home, however they left once no one answered.
A dispatcher told a relative that he would inform first responders that the family may have been poisoned by carbon monoxide, however he failed to do so.
Firefighters returned to the home three hours later, after dispatchers were bombarded with calls from relatives over concerns of carbon monoxide poisoning and that someone needed to check on the family.
That is when first responders entered the house through an unlocked door and found the bodies of Mersha and the couple’s 7-year-old daughter Rakaeb. Bekele and the couple’s 8-year-old son, Beimnet, were then rushed to the hospital where they made a full recovery.
After the incident, media outlets reported that a firefighter refused to enter the home, due to the massive storm.
So, in July 2021, the fire department launched an investigation and found that the firefighter’s decision resulted in the death of a mother and daughter who had both been exposed to carbon monoxide for an additional three hours.
According to NBC 5, the fire department sent a letter to the Texas attorney general and stated the “allegations of misconduct in this investigation were sustained and disciplinary action was taken against the firefighter.”
Texas law prohibits the fire department from publicly disclosing information regarding the investigation, therefore at this time, the firefighter has not been identified and it is not clear what consequences he faces, NBC News reported.