AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — A year ago this week, 15-year-old Sarah Pool lost her life on Lake Travis. The teenager was at a church wakeboarding camp, when she breathed in a toxic amount of carbon monoxide and drowned.
“Everyone liked Sarah, she had this way about her that made everyone feel comfortable,” says family friend, Jake Massengale. “And I think that’s why it was so shocking, no one expects that. Austin is a community that spends a lot of time on the lake.”
Massengale met Sarah when she was just in 2nd grade, and remembers her as happy and free-spirited.
He says Sarah’s mother is working to create awareness over the dangers of carbon monoxide. “It’s something we never knew about, I don’t think many people ever knew about,” said Massengale.
Kristen Hullum, RN, is a Trauma Injury Prevention Coordinator at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center.
“Any time the engine is running on a boat, carbon monoxide is being produced,” said Hullum. “If there are swimmers on the back of boat or on the platform in back, they can be quickly exposed to carbon monoxide. You never want to have the engine running, even idling.”
Hullum says she goes out into the community teaching children and adults how to stay safe and prevent the traumatic injuries that could change, or even end, their lives.
“When you start to feel early symptoms — nausea, dizziness, headaches — it doesn’t take but more than few minutes of being exposed to lose consciousness or stop breathing,” said Hullum.
She says while carbon monoxide poisoning is less common than other boating injuries, it still poses a serious risk.
“The risk of carbon monoxide is greater on older boats and boats that have cabins, like house boats,” said Hullum. “You want to make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors in those enclosed areas.”
If someone is showing the signs of poisoning, the first thing you want to do is make sure the engine is turned off. You also want to get the person to fresh air as quickly as possible.
Those who knew and loved Sarah ask others to be careful and aware this summer, watching out for one another. They don’t want other families to endure the pain they have since Sarah’s death.