High school student dies after carbon monoxide exposure


Briana S. Davidson, staff writer

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Brian Keith “BJ”  Davidson Jr. was a senior at W.J. Keenan High School in Columbia, South Carolina when he died of unintentional, non-fire carbon monoxide poisoning on Valentine’s Day 2017.  

Davidson died just four days after his 18th birthday because he did not know about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

Davidson was a varsity football player, track star,  a private in the  S.C. National Guard,  2nd lieutenant in the Army junior reserve officer training corps, president of the junior ushers at his church, member of a youth advisory council for his church,  a teacher cadet at his school and first runner up for Mr. Keenan.

On Feb. 14, 2017, Davidson sat in his cranked car, listening to music and texting with the garage door down. Davidson didn’t know that sitting in a cranked car in an enclosed garage could result in death.

Carbon monoxide is a gas that can’t be seen or smelled but can make individuals sick or kill them. Although completely preventable, CO poisoning remains the leading cause of preventable deaths.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional, CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.”

The majority of these deaths occur in winter and fall months when the weather tends to be colder. In fact, in 2015, “36% of unintentional, non-fire carbon monoxide deaths occurred in December, January or February,”  National Health  Center for Health Statistics wrote.

As we approach weather changes, take note of ways to prevent CO poisoning. Share this list with friends, family and colleagues.  

  1.         Install a CO detector and replace it every five years.
  2.         Have your gas, oil and coal appliances serviced every year by a qualified technician.
  3.         Do not use portable, flameless,  or chemical heaters indoors.
  4.         Make sure gas appliances are vented properly.
  5.         Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year.
  6.         Never use a generator inside your home or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent.
  7.         Have a mechanic check your vehicle’s exhaust system every year.
  8.         Never run your vehicle inside a garage that is attached to a house even when the garage door is open.
  9. Always open the door to a detached garage to let fresh air in when you crank your vehicle.


It is important to remember that Davidson’s story is shared by far too many because of the lack of awareness surrounding this issue. For example,  three people died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the same hotel room. An elderly couple and an 11-year-old boy lost their lives in Boone, North Carolina in 2013 as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Additionally, a 54-year-old man died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Sumter County, South Carolina during Hurricane Irma.  William McBride left his generator running, and it led to his death.

Remember, as winter is approaching, think of Davidson’s story and the stories of others who died as a result of this gas.  Use these tips above and do additional research to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. This poisoning has been called the “silent killer,” so take note that exposure to this gas is not easily detectable; you can’t rely on your vision or smell.

Editor’s note: Briana Davidson is  Brian Davidson’s  older sister and a senior,  dance education and English major.

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