Gas Odor Investigation Leads to Discovery of 2 Bodies in Mountain View Apartment

Two people were found dead in a Mountain View apartment complex where a strong chemical odor led to evacuations and a shelter in place advisory in the area on Wednesday evening, a police spokeswoman said.

Police said Thursday that they have determined it was not a gas line leak. Investigators on Friday said the chemicals found inside the unit were: calcium sulfide, sufuric acid and a byproduct of sulfuric dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.

Officers responded to a report of a strong gas odor coming from an apartment complex at 2025 California St. shortly after 6 p.m., police spokeswoman Shino Tanaka said. Arriving officers went to the scene, smelled the strong odor and called for residents at 2025 and 2017 California St. to evacuate, Tanaka said. Four officers who were exposed to the gas were treated by medics at the scene and released, according to Tanaka.

Evacuees were advised to go to the community center at 201 S. Rengstorff Ave. where to seek assistance from the American Red Cross, police said. Residents at 2035 California St. were told to shelter in place, Tanaka said. Firefighters vented apartment buildings in the area and PG&E was called to turn off gas service, she said.

Fire crews found the gas was coming from a unit at 2025 California St. and waited until gas service was turned off to enter, according to Tanaka. Once the gas dissipated and the scene was deemed safe to enter, fire crews went inside the unit to find two dead victims, she said.

Residents at 2025 and 2017 California St. were not allowed back in their homes Wednesday night. Tanaka said there were about 30 to 40 residents at the community center on Wednesday night.

But at about 8 a.m. Thursday after the bodies were removed, residents were allowed to return to home.

One man who was evacuated described the scene as surreal.

"Well, I came home from work, took a nap, and it really smelled like gas," David Sullivan said. "And then, the police came, started yelling with a blow horn, knocking on people's doors and told us we had to leave. Then, I went to dance class. And when I came back, there’s still this huge scene here. I've been just waiting in my car. My cat is in my apartment, and I really want to go see her.”

Wednesday night’s responding hazmat crews were in what they called "suited up" mode, which means complete coverage. They were completely excluded from outside air, with a breathing apparatus connected to bottled oxygen and a rubber suit over everything.

Crews are still trying to figure out the source of the odor. Police are not saying whether any foul play was involved. Fire department officials initially said a 911 caller had characterized a message posted outside the apartment door as a suicide note. But police said that it was not a suicide note. They would not comment what the note said or where they found it.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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