MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS SF) — The deaths of a father and son found Wednesday after a reported gas leak at an apartment in Mountain View appear to be the result of a suicide and an accident, Mountain View police said Monday.
Authorities found the chemical substances calcium sulfide and sulfuric acid in the apartment that created the byproducts sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas, police said.
The Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office today identified Lian Liu, 53, and his son William, 17, as those found dead Wednesday after a report of a strong gas odor at an apartment complex at 2025 California St. in Mountain View. Officers are not revealing who killed themselves and who accidentally died.
Shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday, residents coming home from work were greeted by the noxious smell that grew more pronounced the further they went into the building, said Anna Wong, one of dozens evacuated to a nearby community center overnight while police and firefighters investigated.
“It was a strong smell,” Wong said, adding she was relieved to discover it was not a natural gas leak as authorities originally suspected.
The odor persisted even after Pacific Gas and Electric shut off gas service at 2025 California Street. That building and 2017 California Street were both evacuated shortly after 6 p.m., and residents were not allowed back inside until the next morning.
Four officers exposed to the gas were treated by medics at the scene and released, police said.
Fire crews found the gas was coming from a unit at 2025 California St. and waited until gas service was turned off by PG&E to enter, according to police.
Once the gas dissipated and the scene was deemed safe to enter, fire crews went inside the unit and found the victims’ bodies, police said.
About 30 to 40 residents of the apartment complex were sent to a community center on Rengstorff Avenue on Wednesday night before being allowed back home early Thursday morning, police said.
Lian Liu, who went by the first name of James, was the manager of the popular Milk Pail Market in Mountain View and the brother-in-law of the market’s owner Steve Rasmussen, according to Kai Rasmussen, James’ niece who wrote a Facebook post Friday announcing Liu’s death.
Liu was “highly respected and brilliant,” Rasmussen wrote. “His ability to negotiate and bargain with suppliers single-handedly enabled the Milk Pail to sell quality produce, fine cheeses and European goods at extraordinarily low prices,” she wrote.
“James lived and breathed the Milk Pail,” she wrote. “He poured his heart into the business, and everything he did he did with honesty and integrity. In the world of retail, James’ genius was unparalleled.”
Employees at the Milk Pail Market, located at 2585 California St. in Mountain View, were not immediately available for comment today on the deaths.
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