Couple’s death while house hunting in Mexico highlights risk to renters

Travelers urged to pack carbon monoxide detectors

A U.S. couple vacationing in Mexico died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Photo: Courtesy
A U.S. couple vacationing in Mexico died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Photo: Courtesy

In memory of a U.S. couple who died while house hunting in Mexico, survivors asked the public to pack something extra when traveling abroad to prevent further tragedies.

A portable carbon monoxide detector could have saved Edward Winders and Barbara Moller, who died in November.

A memorial service for the pair will be held in Albany, N.Y., next week. The couple most recently lived in New Orleans.

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Winders and Moller had been looking for a vacation home in San Miguel de Allende.

They were founding members and board members for Voices for Global Change, a nonprofit that works to support marginalized groups in developing countries.

Their two children, Jennifer and Eric, surmounted geographical and language barriers, piecing together information about their parents’ deaths. The couple checked into their vacation rental on Nov. 15 and went to sleep that night.

The rental’s owner did not hear from them the next day, but just assumed they were “doing their thing around town,” said Eric Winders.

By the next afternoon, the owner smelled gas emanating from the rental. She and her husband entered the residence and found the couple dead inside, the children said.

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A faulty heater was blamed.

In March 2018, a family of four from Iowa died in their rented Akumal condo under similar circumstances.

One way to avoid such a tragedy is to travel with a portable carbon monoxide detector and to check fire exits.

“It should be part of your normal checklist,” says Anthony Roman, a risk management expert. “Even in wonderful vacations, the risks can increase because we are normally distracted. Safety should be on our checklist of items.”

Stan Sandberg, a travel insurance agent, says travelers should carefully inspect vacation rentals and look for signs that it is well-maintained and managed properly.

“Make sure to meet the property or rental manager in person,” Sandberg says. “Ask about air conditioning, heating and how the rental’s other utilities work and whether they’ve been serviced recently. Does it have a guest book with comments from previous renters?”

With information from the (Albany) Times Union, Nola, USA Today

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