By Sean Bowes
Following a two-week-long investigation led by Tampa Police Department (TPD) homicide detectives, the Hillsborough State Attorney’s office has ruled that no charges will be filed against Andrew Grywalski, 22, a New Tampa man who, police say, forgot to turn off the ignition in his car. As we reported last issue, the mistake left one of Grywalski’s neighbors, Rebecca Hawk, 23, dead from fumes that leaked into her apartment. TPD officials are calling the death a “terrible accident.”
But, many hope that Hawk’s memory will live on through a new Florida law. Ms. Hawk’s friends and some strangers have come together to urge lawmakers to change the current regulations regarding the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all residences. A friend of Hawk’s, Heather Donaldson, is calling the movement “Hawk’s Law.” She says that if the changes aren’t made to the current regulations, more innocent people like Rebecca could be injured or die.
“My ultimate goal is to require every apartment, condo, townhome and duplex with an attached garage to install a carbon monoxide detector,” Donaldson says.
Donaldson also has started a Facebook page to raise awareness about the movement. At our press time, the page had 90 followers.
Currently, Florida law requires that only buildings that were constructed after July 1, 2008, must have carbon monoxide detectors installed within 10 feet of each bedroom. At this time, only 26 states have laws that require the use of carbon monoxide detectors in apartments or single-family homes.
Donaldson wants to make Florida the 27th state to require the detectors in all residences with attached garages. She is asking supporters to write to their state representatives to get the legislature to pas a new law that could prevent future tragedies. Donaldson adds that Hawk, who had been working for only ten weeks at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), where she trained as to be a child protection investigator, lived her life to help others.
“My goal is to prevent other people from suffering the pain we had to suffer in losing such a wonderful person,” Donaldson says. “Knowing that Rebecca wanted to impact people’s lives, I believe she would want us all to do this for her.”
Carbon monoxide detectors cost as little as $20 and can be bought at locally at hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. The detectors function by measuring the carbon monoxide levels in a closed environment and if dangerous levels of the gas accumulate in a room, an alarm alerts residents, giving those inside the residence adequate time to evacuate their home.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that carbon monoxide poisoning annually claims nearly 500 lives, and causes more than 15,000 visits to hospital emergency departments.
AThe TPD report says that Hawk’s roommate, Kashaunda Joyner, 20, and a 62-year-old neighbor, were taken to University Community Hospital and were treated after inhaling the fumes. They were both released later that day.