Coroner’s Office Believes Petrolia Death to Be a Suicide


Humboldt Bay Fire Hazmat team investigating the curious death in Petrolia. [Photo provided by Cal Fire.]

The death of an Oakland man near Petrolia on February 2 is believed to be a suicide, said Humboldt County Deputy Coroner Ernie Stewart today. “Chemicals were used to create a carbon monoxide atmosphere in the vehicle,” he explained. Sulfuric acid and formic acid were mixed together to create the poisonous gas.

This is an unusual but not unknown method of suicide. The gas can create a “toxic gas that poses significant hazards for death investigators, first responders and bystanders.” However, in this case, the first responders were not harmed.

“It is not uncommon for people to go out to the Petrolia area to commit suicide,” Stewart said. The man who died was from Oakland but had “been camping there with his family as a youth,” Stewart explained. “It is a beautiful area,” added Stewart.

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