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Milton man charged after 4 children pass out from carbon monoxide exposure in home

Colin Warren-Hicks
Pensacola News Journal

A Milton man is accused of neglecting the safety of four children Sunday when he operated an air compressor inside a house, causing carbon monoxide levels to rise eight times higher than what is considered safe for humans to breath.

The children passed out and their skin developed splotches before EMS could arrive, according to an arrest report.

Richard Dickson, 40, was arrested Monday, charged with four counts of child abuse and booked into the Santa Rosa County Jail with a $30,000 bond.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office deputies, firefighters and EMS personnel arrived at Dickson's residence around 11 p.m. Sunday in response to a woman’s 911 call.

The woman explained to investigators that Dickson had been working on his truck and running a gas-powered air compressor in the home’s kitchen when she and the four children returned home from swimming that night, according to the arrest report.

She and the children went inside to eat, and a short time later, one of the kids approached her to complain about feeling sick with a headache, dizziness and nausea.

The woman went outside and told Dickson what was happening, and she and Dickson got everyone out of the house, the report stated. But by the time the children exited the house, all four of them began to pass out, and one of the children started to have a seizure.

The woman placed a call to 911 at 10:45 p.m., and EMS arrived approximately 10 minutes later and recorded an initial carbon monoxide reading inside the residence of “300 parts per million.”

When firefighters arrived at approximately 11:15 p.m., they recorded a carbon monoxide reading of 220 parts per million, the report stated. A firefighter later explained to a SRSO deputy that anything over 35 parts per million is not safe for humans to breath.

Firefighters set up fans outside the house to reduce the carbon monoxide levels, and after approximately one hour, the carbon monoxide levels had subsided to slightly over 35 parts per million.

Once it was safe, a SRSO deputy entered the residence and observed a large gas-powered air compressor inside the kitchen of the small house. He said Dickson’s “negligent action” resulted in the children being transported to a hospital for treatment.

Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at colinwarrenhicks@pnj.com or 850-435-8680.