By Sadef Ali Kully
The Floral Park home where an elderly couple, a tenant and a friend died last week after a car was left running in the garage did not have carbon monoxide detectors, Fire Department officials said.
Jerry and Marie Hugel, in their 80s; their tenant Gloria Greco, 70, who lived on the second floor; and Walter Von Thadden, 76, a friend from Whitestone, were found dead by the Hugel’s son, NYPD Sergeant Robert Hugel, in different parts of their home around 3 p.m. last Friday, neighbors said.
Earlier in the day, the sergeant could not get in touch with his parents and rushed to their home on 260-08 86 Ave., according to neighbors.
When FDNY units arrived at the scene, their carbon monoxide meters activated, fire authorities said.
Firefighters then used their full-face masks and began to search the house, where they found Marie Hugel in the kitchen, Jerry Hugel in the garage, Greco and Von Thadden near the second floor of the home, police and fire officals said. All were unconscious and unresponsive with no signs of trauma.
Emergency responders declared the four victims dead at the scene, according to the police.
Firefighters then began to work with the NYPD to secure and preserve the scene in case a possible crime had been committed, the FDNY said.
Police and fire officials later determined the deaths to be an accident.
The Fire Department confirmed that after the home was cleared no carbon minoxide detectors were found.
“Carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Carbon monoxide is undetectable to the human senses. CO is odorless and its exposure can render a person unconscious before they knew what hit them,” said Jim Long, the spokesman for the Fire Department of New York.
The medical examiner’s office said it has not yet determined the official cause of death in the fatal accident.
Jerry Hugel, a beer salesman, and Marie Hugel were married for 60 years. had five children and had lived in neighborhood for over 30 years, according to neighbors, who were still in complete disbelief over the incident.
“I heard the sirens and then you could see the police. They were here quickly,” said Mike Gratzer, 50, who lives down the street from the Hugels. “Our family has known them many, many years. It is just the saddest thing.”
The Hugels, proud of their German roots, were a part of the Schlierachtaler Stamm, a traditional Bavarian dance club located near Franklin Square in Nassau County, said neighbors.
“They used to come out dressed in their cute outfits,” Gratzer said. “Just the sweetest people. You would never think in a million years that this would happen.”
The Facebook page of the Bavarian dance club showed the couple taking part in dances and dressed up in traditional Bavarian dress and lederhosen. According to the dance club’s website, Jerry Hugel was president of the club until 2013.
Their son, Robert, 57, is a member of the NYPD’s Technical Assistance Response Unit.
According to their obituary in Newsday, the Hugels left behind five children and 12 grandchildren. The Hugel family has asked that contributions in memory of Marie and Jerry Hugel may be made to the Amanda Hansen Foundation to advance education and awareness of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull