A hunting trip turned tragic for some Nevada hunters this past weekend after a female in their group was reported to be in critical condition from carbon monoxide poisoning.
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on Saturday the Maybell ambulance transported Diane Tobler-McKinnis, 51, of Henderson NV, to The Memorial Hospital in Craig.
As of this morning Tobler-McKinnis was reported to be in the Intensive Care Unit at Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital in Denver. Her condition had not changed, she was being treated in a hyperbaric chamber and she was listed in extremely critical condition. Prognosis for recovery was bleak, according to Bevel's report.
Moffat County Sheriff's Deputy Adrian Bevel met the ambulance and the victim's husband, Robert McKinnis and brother David Tobler at The Memorial Hospital. According to the deputy's report both were "very visibly upset" and the deputy had a victim's advocate respond to the hospital.
Robert McKinnis told the deputy that his wife had come with him to hunt for the first time in 10 years. She felt ill the morning of the incident and decided to stay in camp. The McKinnis' were staying in a Wells Cargo box trailer during the hunting trip. A 20-pound propane tank heater was used to heat the trailer. McKinnis said he had told his wife not to run the heater very long and that she should probably move to the other camper if she didn't start feeling better. He and everyone else left camp to hunt.
McKinnis returned to camp approximately at 5 p.m., shortly after his nephew Benjamin Tobler. He didn't see Diane up and walking around camp so he checked his trailer and found her still in bed. He said she was a "weird, kind of blue/red" color and she was breathing funny. The propane heater was still on and the inside of the tailer was extremely hot. He called for Benjamin to come help him and they took Diane out of the back gate of the trailer to get her in the fresh air.
McKinnis said Diane wears a mouth splint because she grinds her teeth in her sleep. He could not get the splint out of her mouth because her teeth were clenched. McKinnis said Diane vomited several times. McKinnis sent Benjamin to get the other hunters who were still riding back to camp. Approximately 10 minutes later, Tobler left and his father, David Tobler, returned to the camp. They loaded Diane into McKinnis' Ford truck and started driving toward Maybell to meet the ambulance.
Bevel asked McKinnis if Diane had been depressed and he said she had not. He said she truly enjoyed life and was an avid hunter and shooter. He said she had not been feeling well, complaining of a sore throat and swollen glands.
McKinnis mentioned that there were two small vents in the trailer, one near the front and one near the back. He said he had intended to put another one in this past summer, but had never gotten around to it.
David Tobler told Bevel a story similar to his uncle's. He added that, while checking Diane during the ride to meet the ambulance, she never quit breathing, nor did she respond to David Tobler.
At approximately 2:30 a.m. Diane was transported to the Moffat County Airport by ambulance, and flown to Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital in Denver for further treatment of severe carbon monoxide poising. Her husband flew with her.
Bevel and a victim's advocate returned to the campsite at the south end of Irish Canyon about 1/4 mile north, northwest of mile marker 4 on Moffat County Road 10.
Bevel spoke with Benjamin Tobler whose story was similar to what McKinnis and David Tobler said had happened. Bevel's report states he was unable to find any of the vents that McKinnis had spoken about at The Memorial Hospital.
Bevel stated in his report there was no indication of foul play.
The officials at Presbyterian-St. Lukes refused to give out any information on McKinnis-Tobler's condition.
Moffat County Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg said carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the dangers people need to be wary of while hunting and camping during the winter.
"People need to be aware that propane heaters and other propane devices in confined spaces such as tents and campers can be a real danger," Hoberg said. "They did say that they had this trailer ventilated, but it must have not been ventilated quite enough."
Hoberg added he didn't expect any criminal charges to be filed.