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Propane gas killed Iowa family vacationing in Mexico, police say

DES MOINES, Iowa — Autopsies show an Iowa family was killed when propane leaked from a faulty water heater at their rented condominium in Mexico, according to a local police investigator.

Christopher Martinez with the attorney general’s office for the state of Quintana Roo told The Des Moines Register on Wednesday that the water heater had rusted in the humid climate.

“There was a leak, and it was coming right from the laundry room,” Martinez said through an interpreter. “The laundry room had no ventilation whatsoever.”

Services were held Saturday in Creston for 41-year-old Kevin Sharp and his wife, 38-year-old Amy Sharp, and their children, 12-year-old Sterling and 7-year-old Adrianna. Their bodies were found March 23 inside the condo in the resort town of Tulum, which sits on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Amy Sharp’s cousin Jana Weland said Wednesday that relatives were told the water heater was the suspected source but that U.S. and Mexican officials hadn’t yet said what type of gas had asphyxiated the Sharps.

The condo association has said owners are responsible for maintenance.

The water heater was bought in 2012, Martinez said, and its warranty ran out last year. He wouldn’t say who owns the condo.

The family’s rented car was full of sand the day bodies were found, leading police to believe the Sharps had been at the beach the day they died. Investigators think the family returned to the condo to bathe and rest.

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