A 75-year-old Ottawa man is dead and his wife in critical condition after a carbon monoxide leak inside their Orléans home.  The couple was found by a friend who was coming to take them out for the day. Carbon monoxide levels were high enough inside the home that the friend was also sent to hospital. The wife, who is also 75, is in a hyperbaric chamber at the Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital. The husband didn't survive.

Paramedics and firefighters were called to the house on Phoenix crescent in Orléans just before 11 Tuesday morning. A female friend had found an elderly woman inside in critical condition. The first paramedic on the scene suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

“That's part of their training,” says Marc-Antoine Deschamps with the Ottawa Paramedic Service, “but that paramedic was amazing at determining the likelihood of what caused the unconsciousness because there were two people with the exact signs and symptoms at the same house at the same time. That's often a sign of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Ottawa Police explain that the couple had made arrangements earlier Tuesday morning to go out with a friend. It was that female friend who found them inside the house.

“A friend attended the residence,” says Acting Inspector Francois D’Aoust with Ottawa Police, “There was a planned outing and the friend attended the residence and found lady in distress and the male deceased at the scene.”

The wife was rushed to hospital along with the woman who found the couple. Sadly it was too late for the woman's husband.

Firefighters found readings of between 600 and 700 parts per million. A low level is 50 parts per million.

“I can’t believe that happened,” says neighbor Justin Mercier, “that’s crazy.”

Neighbours describe the couple as friendly but quiet. The husband had a passion for antique cars; one of them was visible inside their garage.

“Great cars,” Mercier continued, “You could always hear him ride down the street and I would point to my kid and says “There's the nice car.”  It’s really unfortunate.”

For many, as they watched the emergency situation unfold meters away from their own homes, it was a stark reminder to make sure their carbon monoxide detectors were plugged in and working.

“It makes you think again,” says Sue Schieman, “to make sure our C.O. detectors are working. I just reviewed the rules with our kids to make sure as well that the vents aren't blocked if they're outside playing.”

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the leak. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority has been called in and will be conducting tests of the furnace and other natural-gas appliances.