All four members of a family were found dead in their car on Sunday morning near the Dusshera Ground in Faridabad. Police said the family appeared to have suffocated to death after inhaling carbon monoxide which the car’s air conditioner might have sucked in.
Although some relatives said the four might have been poisoned or gassed, police did not suspect foul play. "There were no injury marks on the bodies and the cash, jewellery and other valuables in the family's possession seemed untouched," said Deputy Superintendent of Police Bijender Singh. "The car was locked from inside."
Dhanesh Jindal, an electronics-parts trader and resident of Sector 30, his wife Ruchi, their six-year-old son and two-year-old daughter had gone out for dinner on Saturday night. Since it was raining heavily and water had collected on the road, they stopped near the Dusshera Ground at Sector 16 around 8 p.m.
Faiza, who runs the Durga Dawakhana near the ground, told police he had seen Dhanesh stop the Santro. He said there were about four or five cars parked near his tent, probably waiting for the rain to stop.
On Sunday morning, Faiza again saw the Jindals' car parked at the same place. All four passengers inside were dead. Blood had seeped from their mouths.
Sheetal Singh, an automobile engineer and CMD, Altenergy India Ltd, said: "The air conditioner sometimes sucks in carbon monoxide through the exhaust system. Mixed with air, carbon monoxide slowly poisons the occupants of the car."
DSP Bijender Singh said the doctors who conducted the postmortem said the deaths were caused by carbon-monoxide poisioning. “Although we have sent the viscera samples to the forensic science laboratory in Madhuban to ascertain which gas caused the deaths, preliminary postmortem reports show they were caused by suffocation,” he said.
He added that the doctors said the carbon monoxide had probably leaked into the car through the air-conditioning vents. "The family inhaled the gas, which works as slow poison," said Singh. "It put the whole family to sleep and eventually killed them."
Sheetal Singh said most new cars had an auto-operating system for air-conditioning. "When the AC is on and the temperature inside reaches the optimum level, there is a change in the intake mode. The AC automatically starts taking air from outside so there is fresh air inside,” he said.
Officials at Hyundai, which manufactures the Santro, weren’t available for comment.