By Sean Bowes

At our press time, charges had not been filed against Andrew Grywalski, 22, a New Tampa man who, police say, forgot to turn off the ignition in his car, which left one of his neighbors dead from what the Tampa Police Department (TPD) says was most likely a “terrible accident.” Family members and co-workers at Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) are grieving over the death of Rebecca Hawk, 23, an “always smiling” child protection investigator for HCSO who died from carbon monoxide poisoning when Grywalski left his car running overnight in the garage of his Vista Grande apartment in Tampa Palms.

According to TPD report, Grywalski pulled his gunmetal 2011 Mazda 3 hatchback into the garage around 8:30 p.m. on September 1 and failed to bring the key inside with him. With the garage door closed over night, the colorless and odorless carbon monoxide gas from the Mazda’s exhaust filled the garage and crept into Hawk’s apartment overnight at 5207 Cypress Palms Ln., which shared a wall with Grywalski’s garage.

It was just after 9 a.m., more than 12 hours after the Mazda pulled into the garage, when a Vista Grande maintenance worker smelled the Mazda’s noxious exhaust fumes. The worker immediately notified Tampa Fire Rescue (TFR), and started knocking on neighbors’ doors to evacuate tenants before firefighters had arrived.

Authorities and Vista Grande management had not released the worker’s name at our press time.

When TFR showed up, it was already too late for Hawk. According to TPD spokesperson Laura McElroy, the fumes also affected Hawk’s roommate, Kashaunda Joyner, 20, who also was inside the apartment, but her condition was reported as “stable” at University Community Hospital at our press time. A 62-year-old woman who lived upstairs from the roommates also was transported to the hospital because she felt light-headed, but she was later released.

According to HCSO spokesperson Larry McKinnon, the Sheriff’s Office is “mourning one of their own,” McKinnon sais. “Rebecca has been employed with HCSO for the past ten weeks and had just completed her class training. She was always smiling, she had a promising career and was just a lovely woman.”

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