Omaha authorities identify 2 people who died of carbon monoxide poisoning

The Bullers were the type of people who made every neighborhood better.

Hardworking, generous, friendly.

On Monday, the patriarch of the family, Tedford Buller, 79, and a younger member of his family, Jennifer Buller, 37, died of carbon monoxide poisoning at the elder Buller’s home near 56th and Spring Streets.

Authorities say a vehicle had been left running in the home’s attached garage.

Police were called to the home at 5614 Spring St. at 10:52 a.m. Monday.

Carbon monoxide levels in the house were measured at 400 parts per million, said Omaha Fire Battalion Chief Scott Fitzpatrick. When levels exceed 50 parts per million, they become deadly, he said.

The Buller family had lived in their central Omaha home for decades, said longtime neighbor Rita Hug.

“You couldn’t know a better person,” she said of Ted. “If you had to have a neighbor, that’s the one you’d want to have. He was a friend, a member of the family.”

The Bullers, Ted and his wife, Eleanor, had raised their five children there. When Eleanor died in 2009, one of his daughters moved home to be sure her dad was surrounded by family, Hug said.

Hug said she wasn’t sure of Jennifer Buller’s familial connection. The Buller family couldn’t be reached.

Hug said Ted Buller was quick to help anyone in need.

“He’s going to be missed ,” she said. “If anybody had a problem, it was his problem.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning caused 2,244 deaths from 2010 to 2015.

For Rita Hug, the deaths are a reminder that this can happen to anyone.

“If you could foresee an accident, there wouldn’t be one,” she said.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless gas, so an alarm is the only way to learn of a problem. The Omaha Fire Department will install combination smoke and CO detectors for free for Omaha homeowners, Fitzpatrick said. People can request a detector at omaha-fire.org or by calling the department’s public education office at 402-444-3560.

As winter has dragged on, calls for first responders to check carbon monoxide levels in homes have become somewhat regular. In mid-February, five people in Lincoln, including three children, were hospitalized after they were poisoned. In October, a 38-year-old Omaha mother of five, Katrina Diaz, died of carbon monoxide poisoning following a snowstorm and power outage.

Hug had a simple request: “If your readers could take anything from this, remind people to check what they need to check.”

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