SIDE BY SIDE IN DEATH
TWO LITTLE CHILDREN SUFFOCATED BY GAS WHILE ASLEEP.
A Sad Affliction Which Befel Matthew Fitzpatrick and His Wife—The Little Ones Found Cold in Death by Their Father—The Heartfelt Sympathy of the Whole Neighborhood Extended to the Bereaved Parents—The Cause of the Accident Enveloped in Mystery.
One of those accidents which carries grief to the hearts of a whole community was revealed yesterday morning at 1094 north Second street, when Matthew Fitzpatrick discovered the lifeless bodies of two of his children in bed, and the truth was forced upon him that they had been killed by inhaling gas from a burner in the room. After calling frantically to them to awaken them, the father placed his hand on his daughter’s head, and he then realized that she was cold in death. He notified Patrolmen Strand, of the Eighteenth district, and Henry, of the Tenth, and they took charge of the little bodies, while kind friends attempted to console the heart-broken parents.
Mr. Fitzpatrick’s family consisted of his wife, a daughter Ella, seven years old, a son David, four years old, and an infant. They occupy a large three-story brick house, the front room on the first floor being used as a confectionery, the large room on the second floor as a club-room, and the balance of the house is used by the family. Mrs. Fitzpatrick with her babe occupied a rear room on the first floor, and Mr. Fitzpatrick slept in the second-story room with the other children.
On Sunday the wife and mother felt ill and at her request Mr. Fitzpatrick occupied the room on the first floor with her in hope to relieve her of the care of the babe. The other children occupied their own bed in the second-story room, retiring about ten o’clock. At little Ella’s request her father left the gas burning, and an hour later he looked in and everything was safe, the gas burning low, and he returned to the room down stairs.
Shortly before eight o’clock yesterday morning Mr. Fitzpatrick called to the children, but getting no response he immediately went to the room. On opening the door he was almost overcome by a flow of gas, and on making an investigation he found that the gas was turned on full head and was not lighted. Not dreaming of the shock in store for him, he then tried to awaken the little ones, and found that they were dead. The shock was so great that it was feared he would lose his mind. The mother was so overcome that she was utterly prostrated but late last night both had partially recovered from the first shock, and while Mrs. Fitzpatrick was prostrated in addition to the effect of her recent illness, her physician was hopeful that she would recover.
As soon as the sad affair was reported, Deputy Coroner Dugan went to the house and made a thorough examination of the premises. While the case is enveloped in mystery, Mr. Dugan’s theory is that one of the children was awakened during the night and seeing the gas burning arose and turned it out, but in doing so turned the way so as to allow a full flow of gas after the flame had been extinguished.
There were a few blood stains on the bed clothing indicating that the children had made great efforts to recover their breath, but there were few indications of a struggle having taken place, and they had evidently died without being awakened. Mr. Fitzpatrick says the gas was still burning when he looked into the room and can give no explanation of the way the light was extinguished or how the gas was turned on.
The dead children were general favorites in the neighborhood, where they were noted for their beauty and winning ways. The house was visited by hundreds of people during the day, and all expressed the deepest sympathy with the bereaved parents. Relatives and friends took charge of the house during the day and made preparations for the burial of the little ones. The inquest will be held at noon to-day, but the date of the funeral has not been fixed.