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April 7, 2005

Tragic Accident Takes Life Of Deaf Couple In Douglaston

From: Queens Chronicle - Rego Park,NY,USA - Apr 7, 2005

by Liz Rhoades, Managing Editor
April 07, 2005

A tragic set of circumstances resulted in the death of a hearing-impaired married couple in Douglaston last week.

Police believe Blair Mazin, 50, and his wife, Anita, 49, died accidentally from carbon monoxide poisoning in their upscale condominium in a gated community at 242-22 Oak Park Drive. Their bodies were discovered on March 30th, but officials now say they may have died two days earlier.

The couple's car was found running with no gas remaining in the fuel tank. Police surmise that the ignition was left on by mistake and that the couple did not hear the carbon monoxide detector alarm go off.

The two were discovered with their hearing devices on their end tables. The couple's pet bird was also found dead in its cage.

Family and co-workers became suspicious when Mrs. Mazin, who ran the Kissena Park Pre-School, did not turn up for work on Tuesday. Her husband was an accountant.

A day before the deaths were discovered, firefighters responded to a call of gas fumes at the adjacent condo unit. When nothing was found, they left. One theory is that the gas fumes from the Mazin's unit seeped into the neighbor's house through a common wall, but no one checked next door at the time.

Police believe that the Mazins did not realize the car had been left on Monday night and were unable to hear the car running because of their hearing loss.

The couple was very active with Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, which meets regularly at the Lexington School for the Deaf in Jackson Heights. He was president of the Oceanside, Long Island chapter.

He and his wife had been married for 25 years and had moved to the Douglaston community a year ago.

Last November, the city enacted a law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in all residences, schools and hospitals. Called the silent killer because the gas is odorless and colorless, carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States.

The danger of carbon monoxide poisoning is more prevalent in the colder months, because of increased use of heating appliances and closed windows. The best way to prevent such deaths is never to use ovens to heat apartments, don't leave cars idling in the garage and don't leave chimneys and flues dirty.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, dizziness, headache and loss of consciousness. The detectors are designed to go off before the levels of the gas become lethal.

Joe Gordon, who is a New York State chapters coordinator for Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, said he had known Blair Mazin for five years and that he was also a very loyal member of the League for the Hard of Hearing.

Gordon recalled that Blair Mazin was a pioneer in having double cochlear implant surgery about six years ago to improve his hearing. Since then, he has been active in working with cochlear support groups.

Gordon noted that while he couldn't speak for the Mazins, he has special smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in his home that are geared for the hearing impaired. "Aside from the noise, they have flashing strobe lights, which will wake you up," he said.

Laurie Hanin, executive director of the League for the Hard of Hearing in Manhattan, said it is so important for hearing- impaired people to have such alarms installed in their bedrooms. "Strobe lights won't do any good if they are in a different room."

She called the couple wonderful, kind people who gave a lot of time volunteering at the league. "Everyone knew them and Blair inspired a lot of people. It's really a tragedy."

Hanin said Blair had the ear implants about six years ago and it made a big difference in his life. "He supported other people having the surgery," she added.

The league will hold a memorial service for the couple, probably in May or June, in Manhattan.

©Queens Chronicle - Northern/NorthEastern Edition 2005