QUAKERTOWN — Friends and neighbors were stunned and saddened by the deaths of four family members who appear to have died of carbon monoxide fumes that resulted from the husband’s apparent suicide.
Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said Tuesday night that a state police investigation indicates that Gary Reitnauer went to the garage of an adjacent home on the family’s property on Monday and started the car following a disagreement with his wife, Michelle.
He said it is believed that Michelle Reitnauer and the family’s two daughters tried to rescue him and were overcome by the fumes.
Fire department rescue crews were unable to revive the family.
“Good man,” a nephew, Rob Zern, told reporters as he left the home. “The family was trying to save each other and it didn’t work out ... don’t know what all went wrong, but it’s a tragedy all around.”
A neighbor described them as “just the sweetest family.”
State police were called to the home in Milford Township in rural Bucks County at 11:20 p.m. Monday. They found the structure filled with high levels of carbon monoxide from a running vehicle, Lt. Vincent D’Angelo said in a news release.
Investigators “believe the husband committed suicide and each ... of the family members succumbed to carbon monoxide when they went to check on him and tried to rescue him,” Heckler said.
The cause and manner of death must still be confirmed by the county coroner’s office, he said. Autopsies were to be performed today on the family, according to WFMZ-TV.
State police have found no note but the garage door handle had been knocked off “which suggested that the husband went in there and did not intend to be disturbed or rescued,” Heckler said.
He said the circumstances also indicate that the wife went to the garage and broke the window of another door in an attempt to rescue him, but was apparently overcome by the deadly fumes and was found inside.
The family’s 16-year-old daughter, Kimberly, then is believed to have gone to a kitchen adjacent to the garage. She was found on the floor there, Heckler said. Daughter Jamie, 10, is thought to have done the same and was barely alive when rescuers arrived. She later died.