Richard Whitehead 2nd person to die as result of Sandy's impact in Berks County

Man, 86, died of carbon monoxide poisoning from generator, officials say

Man, 86, 2nd Berks victim of Hurricane Sandy; wife in critical condition

SPRING TWP., Pa. - Sandy is being blamed for another tragedy in Pennsylvania. A family is reeling from a loss, and at the same time, hoping for a miracle.

A generator is being blamed for the death of a Spring Twp., Berks Co. man. His wife is also fighting for her life after the couple's grandsons pulled them out of a house overcome with fumes.

Richard Whitehead and his wife, Pauline, were simply being good parents. Their son, Kurt, was hunting near State College, and they were checking in on his home that was without power because of Hurricane Sandy.

"They just like to make their rounds. It gives them something to do. They come back and check on everybody to make sure everything is OK," said Josh Whitehead, the couple's grandson.

On Wednesday night, everything wasn't OK. When their grandson went to look for them at his uncle's house, no one answered the door.

"As soon as I opened it, I smelled that there was carbon monoxide," said Brad Whitehead, the couple's other grandson.

Pauline, 86, was found unconscious slumped in a chair in the living room. Richard, also 86, who goes by the name Dick, was later discovered in the garage, sitting in a rocking chair next to a generator.    

"My grandmother was still breathing, but by the time we got my grandfather out it was too late," said Josh Whitehead.

Dick was pronounced dead on the scene.

The generator was running their son's freezer in the 2000 block of Old Lancaster Pike. The couple was found minutes after the power was restored, said officials.

Pauline was rushed to the hospital, and later flown to the University of Maryland's shock trauma center in Baltimore.

"It was unbelievable, we just don't think things like that happen," said Woody Shaffer, the victim's neighbor.

"I believe we saved one, but we'll see how time goes on," said Josh Whitehead.

Pauline was last listed in critical condition.

The first Berks victim of Hurricane Sandy was Gerald Witman, 62, who died when a tree fell onto his Pike Township home during the height of the storm Monday night. His wife was uninjured.

More than 80 people in the United States have died as a result of Hurricane Sandy's impact.

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