January 6

Whitefield man dies 10 days after Christmas carbon monoxide poisoning

Mervyn Parmenter, 84, a veteran and retired state worker, is the second Mainer to die after gas exposure during the December ice storm.

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WHITEFIELD — The Heath Road man poisoned by carbon monoxide on Christmas Day died Saturday in the state’s second December ice storm-related fatality.

Mervyn Parmenter, 84, died at VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus 10 days he and his wife, Madeline, were found collapsed in their home by neighbor Timothy Morin, who called 911.

Morin’s wife, Joan, and Parmenter’s brother, Roydon, of Augusta, both said Parmenter died of kidney failure. They said he has a history of kidney issues and the carbon monoxide poisoning exacerbated his condition.

“What do I say about Mervyn?” Joan Morin said. “He was the best friend or neighbor you could ask for.”

Madeline Parmenter, 83, survived the poisoning and is now home, Joan Morin said. Chief Deputy Ken Mason of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office didn’t know of Parmenter’s death Monday night, so he couldn’t confirm its link to the poisoning.

Mervyn was a Weeks Mills native and a Marine Corps veteran, serving in the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterreanean Sea from 1947 and 1950, between World War II and the Korean War, according to his obituary in the Kennebec Journal.

After an honorable discharge, he came home to work at a paper mill in Augusta before working his way through college, going on to co-found the Augusta Pulp and Sulfite Credit Union. After serving as the credit union’s treasurer for years, he went to work for the state, serving 25 years as director of the income tax division in what used be the Maine Bureau of Taxation.

In his later years, Mervyn enjoyed woodworking. According to his brother, the two raised cattle and chicken at Mervyn’s home, which wasn’t a farm, but had enough land.

“He led a very interesting life,” Roydon Parmenter said. “He tried everything: boiling sap, making totem poles. You name it, he did it.”

His brother said he had been on dialysis for many years, and the gas poisoning weakened him severely.

On Christmas Day, Lt. Rand Maker of the sheriff’s office said first responders found a generator in a closed garage on the first floor of the split-level house. He said the garage door was accidentially shut, filling the Parmenters’ home with carbon monoxide.

Joan Morin said on Christmas Eve, she had her husband had been over at the Parmenters’ house toasting the couple on their 60th wedding anniversary. The next day, they would save the Parmenters’ lives.

After Timothy Morin called 911, his wife said he called their home, after which Joan Morin, her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend went to the Parmenters’ house and opened doors and windows. She said when she got there, Mervyn had collapsed, wasn’t breathing and his face was blue. Madeline was breathing, but had collapsed.

Joan Morin said she slapped Mervyn and yelled at him, telling him to breathe, punctuating the demand with an expletive. He took a breath then, she said.

On Christmas, the state was in the throes of its worst ice storm since 1998. More than 100,000 people lost power in Maine that week. Carbon monoxide, an odorless gas, can emanate from anything that burns fuel, so generators should not be used in enclosed spaces like garages or homes. Carbon monoxide poisoning kills 400 people every year in the United States, according to the federal government.

The Parmenters’ poisoning was the second case of the storm in Maine. Timothy Woods, 50, of Knox was found dead in a garage Tuesday after he was poisoned by gas from a generator running inside, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The day after Christmas, a spokeswoman at a Lewiston hospital said Mervyn was in fair condition, while a nurse at at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta said Madeline Parmenter, was there in stable condition. She recovered, but he was eventually moved to Togus, where Joan Morin and Roydon Parmenter said his kidneys couldn’t recover from the oxygen deprivation.

But he spoke often while hospitalized, and Joan Morin said he talked of making sure Madeline, who has health problems, would be OK without him.

“His concern to the very end was that his wife was taken care of,” Joan Morin said. “He was always thinking of other people.”

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652 mshepherd@centralmaine.com Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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