56° Good Afternoon
56° Good Afternoon
NewsNew York

Queens man apparently overcome by carbon monoxide while in running car, say cops

Jerry and Marie Hugel of Floral Park, Queens,

Jerry and Marie Hugel of Floral Park, Queens, are shown in a March 2014 photo provided by a friend of the family.

The 83-year-old Queens man who died in his home of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning along with three other people was found in the passenger seat of his car -- left running in the attached garage, an NYPD spokeswoman said Saturday.

Officials believe the deaths were accidental, though it's unclear why Jerry Hugel was in the car under those circumstances.

The other victims found elsewhere inside the Floral Park home were his wife, Marie Hugel, 80, and their friends Gloria Greco, 70, and Walter Vonthaden, 76. The Hugels' son, an NYPD sergeant, discovered the bodies Friday afternoon after being unable to reach his parents.

The NYPD spokeswoman, Sophia Mason, said she didn't know if Jerry Hugel had a medical episode before the poisoning.

The deaths remain under investigation, and autopsies are pending.

The Hugels' friends and neighbors spent Saturday in mourning. Some left flowers at the doorstep of the two-story Cape Cod-style home on 86th Avenue; all told stories of a family-centric couple that was intensely proud of their German-Austrian heritage.

The FDNY said the home did not have carbon monoxide detectors -- which sound an alarm if the odorless gas is detected. The warning devices are required in homes with attached garages.

Hoping to avert further tragedies, fire officials in Queens and Long Island issued reminders to homeowners to install and maintain functional detectors.

One of the Hugels' neighbors, Barbara Stoja, said she checked hers "as soon as I got home."

Stoja said the couple "participated in every Oktoberfest and every German Day parade, and they were very big at Plattduetsche over on Hempstead Turnpike," referring to the Plattduetsche Park German restaurant in Franklin Square.

Another neighbor, Tom Cipriano, recalled the couple's 60th wedding anniversary party last year at Leonard's in Great Neck, attended by 150 people.

"It was very traditional," he said.

Bob Poncel, an FDNY firefighter, said the couple would frequently don traditional German attire. He remembered seeing Hugel in lederhosen and corresponding hat -- "the whole nine yards."

Poncel said he recently asked Hugel whether they'd be seeing each other at an upcoming heritage event. He said Hugel told him he was going to Germany to attend a "big festival" with 30 other couples.

"I said, 'Ah, I'm going to miss you.' "


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

More news