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Carbon monoxide death involving neighbor's car deemed accident

TAMPA — A young woman died earlier this month from carbon monoxide poisoning because a neighbor left his car running overnight. And that man won't be charged, authorities said Friday.

Tampa police homicide detectives met with senior prosecutors from the State Attorney's Office on Thursday and determined the death was a "tragic accident," not a crime, police said.

Rebecca Hawk, 23, died Sept. 1 after breathing fumes from the car as she slept. Her roommate, Kashaunda Joyner, 20, was hospitalized.

Police say the women's neighbor, Andrew Grywalski, 22, left his car running for 11 hours in a garage adjacent to Hawk's bedroom. He was returning from class when he parked it at the Vista Grande Apartments in New Tampa, police said.

Investigators found no evidence Grywalski had drugs or alcohol in his system, said police spokeswoman Andrea Davis.

It's unclear how authorities checked for drugs or why Grywalski neglected to turn off the car. The police report is not complete, and the detective in charge of the case could not be reached Friday.

Grywalski declined to comment.

Hawk's father, Douglas Hawk, said his family will have to accept the prosecutors' decision.

"We could see how it could be an accident and how it could come out the way it did," said Hawk of Jacksonville.

Family members have not decided if they will file a civil lawsuit, he said.

People are often outraged when someone isn't charged criminally in fatal accidents — such as when someone kills a pedestrian while running a red light and receives only a citation, said Davis, the police spokeswoman.

"We hear it all the time with car crashes: 'Gosh, really all they're getting is a citation?' " Davis said.

She said in such cases, detectives look for additional factors, including drugs or alcohol, that could push an accident to a crime. For example, if a motorist hits and kills a pedestrian the driver might be charged if he were drunk, speeding or left the scene.

Even under those circumstances, not all cases result in criminal charges.

"But we will look at it," Davis said.

Times staff writers Jodie Tillman and Marissa Lang contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or jvandervelde@sptimes.com.

Carbon monoxide death involving neighbor's car deemed accident 09/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, September 16, 2011 9:57pm]
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