Police: Sewer gas may be blamed for woman’s death

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Police are investigating the death of a 44-year-old woman who may have died from a rare case of sewer asphyxiation.

According to the police report, on Wednesday, Bernice Weaver was found unconscious on the kitchen floor of a home in the 300 block of N. Belmont Blvd. in Kansas City, Mo. Another woman living in the home returned and found her unresponsive, lying on the floor and called police.

Yvonne Lahmann said her mother was a do-it-yourselfer, often tackling household projects on her own. She said she's not surprised her mom would work on a clogged drain, but never expected it to kill her.

"Her friends just told me that she told her, 'C'mon Bernice, let's fix this.'"

At the scene, police said there was a "strong odor of what appeared to be sewer gas." The Kansas City Fire Department also responded to the scene and expressed concern that the woman may have asphyxiated from the gases.  Police said nothing else in the home appeared to be suspicious.

Weaver's friend, renter Peggy Sutton, is distraught over the death. The mentally-challenged woman said she took Weaver in to keep her off the streets, but never expected the house that provided them both shelter could cause her death.

"I didn't take pity on anybody. It was cold outside. She needed a place to stay say I gave her my basement."

Relatives said they repeatedly asked Weaver to move in with them, but she refused.

"We asked her to come and stay with us and she said she didn't want to be a burden. we told here she wouldn't be a burden. she just wouldn't stay with nobody. without having something to pay," son-in-law Dee Johnson said.

The owner of the house was notified and advised to have a plumber visit the home as soon as possible.

A vigil will be held Saturday to help collect donations for Weaver's burial. It begins at 9 a.m. at the Super Flea Market at St. John and Belmont.

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