Tipster’s call comes too late to save despondent Hazelwood family

Learn why a “welfare check” on a family quickly turned into a crime scene investigation on NE Glisan Street, in this sad story …

Although police officers and paramedics tried to resuscitate the family members that the Multnomah County Coroner says was poisoned by carbon monoxide, the mother, father and child could not be saved.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The stillness of the night was shattered at 11:23 p.m. in the 10900 block of NE Glisan Street on September 6, as police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances converged on a modest house.

“All of a sudden, the street was filled with cops,” Gloria Yalsen tells us as we arrive on scene. “We came out and heard a bang – not like a gun going off. Just a loud ‘thud’ kind of sound. Next thing, I see a cop doing CPR on a guy. I don’t think it worked; the guy is there, under the yellow cover.”

We interview everyone in the area; everyone with whom we speak says they don’t know right then why there is such a high level of public safety provider response.

Tragic event called a Homicide/Suicide
At 5:38 a.m., police spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz tells us he can now release information about the event.

“An occupant of the house sent an e-mail message to a friend in Southern California,” Schmautz begins. “The message informs them of the suicide/homicide.”

When police officers arrive, they find a hose hooked to the exhaust pipe of a hearse, still running, in the home’s driveway.

Officers see the hose is attached to the home’s furnace ductwork. They disconnect the hose and forced entry to the home. The sound heard by the neighbors was, in all likelihood, caused by the forced entry.

“In the home, officers located three incapacitated individuals: 39-year-old John Kuca, 39-year-old Luray Hodder-Kuca, and 5-year-old Ruby Kuca, in a bedroom,” reports Schmautz. “Officers carried all three outside and performed CPR.”

Risking their own safety, officers rush into the home, trying to rescue the occupants. None of the family members survived, police officials say.

We’ve learned, but police will not confirm, that the father and daughter were pronounced dead at the scene. The mother reportedly died on the way to the hospital in the ambulance.

“Detectives confirm that a suicide note was left at the scene,” states Schmautz. However, the spokesman would neither confirm nor deny whether or not their actions were prompted by an illness in their family not covered by health insurance, as some have speculated.

One officer was transported to the hospital after being overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to rescue the occupants of the house.  He was treated and released.

“The officer is doing OK,” Schmautz says.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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