Son devastated as mom, 50, and sister die from CO poisoning while decorating burger van for his birthday
KENT, ENGLAND: A 50-year-old woman and her daughter have tragically died after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning from generator fumes while decorating a burger van for her son’s birthday. Leah Churchill and her 17-year-old daughter Brooke Wanstall were found in the Meat 'N' Greet snack truck on a road in Whitstable, Kent, on Tuesday, February 14.
The bodies of Churchill and Wanstall were found by her devastated son Tyla Wanstall, who initially thought they were sleeping. Tyla, who turned 26 on Tuesday, said he was unaware that Churchill and Brooke had gone down to the food truck site last night to prepare for his birthday. "They were decking the van out inside in balloons and bunting as a birthday surprise for me like my mum would do at home every year," the grieving son told KentOnline.
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Tyla revealed that he opened the van door after smelling fumes. "I smelt fumes but it just didn't register straight away, but it became obvious they were both dead. I called the police and ambulance but it was the firefighters who told me it was likely carbon monoxide poisoning." He believes Churchill may have turned on the petrol generator 'without realizing the danger' so they could 'keep warm' while decorating.
Tyla, further claimed that the thought that the mother and daughter had spent their dying minutes "trying to put a smile on my face" left him feeling "heartbroken." He added that his mother mostly worked in hospitality but had been helping him with the burger van during the week. Churchill, who was a mother of four, is survived by Tyla, daughter Ocean, 23, and a 12-year-old son, Sonny. Tyla described his mother as a ‘kind’ soul, who ‘would do anything for anyone'.
He later revealed that Brooke was about to start her career after completing her GCSEs. "She had her whole life in front of her," he said. "She did really well in her grades and had just started work as a career, which she was really enjoying. She was also due to take her driving test next week." Tyla continued by warning people about carbon monoxide. "Be aware of this thing, people. If you haven’t got a carbon monoxide alarm go and get one. It is a serious killer," he added. "I don’t know how we're ever going to get over this." Carbon monoxide killed 116 people in the UK in 2020, the most recent data from the ONS shows.