MOUNT OLIVE — It has been a little over a week since 12 people, including four police officers, were hospitalized after extremely high levels of carbon monoxide were reported at a home in the Flanders section of town.

On Tuesday afternoon Mayor Rob Greenbaum shared a letter he received from the man whose family was exposed to the gas — which responders said was measured at 1,600 parts per million. Levels above 200 are high enough to cause a light headache after a few hours. Levels around 1,600 are generally high enough to cause headache, nausea, and dizziness after just 20 minutes.

Several people were found unconscious when responders arrived.

That everyone survived was a matter of luck and skill — the latter being that of first-responders —  according to the mayor.

"The response has been overwhelmingly 'Thank God.' God was looking over the family's shoulder that day," he said.

In the letter Paul Gennaro, shares the harrowing tale of the night and describes how two people helped save the lives of his family members before emergency personnel arrived at the scene.

Gennaro said as the situation unfolded his first steps were to take his daughter and youngest son outside into fresh air. He said he was only able to get his wife to the landing of the stairs. Afam Nwandu, a neighbor's son, came to help and got the woman out of the house as well.

With most of his family out of danger, Gennaro said, he, Nwandu, and Nwandu's girlfriend, Melanie Milo, went into the basement of the home to get his older sons out of the house.

"The basement bathroom door was locked, so I broke it open with my shoulder," Gennaro said of that night.

Once the door was open, Gennaro said, they did not believe they could get the others out of the house, and so they tried opening windows to let fresh air in. By that point, he said, three members of the Mount Olive Police Department had arrived and worked together to get the other members of the family out of the house.

"Once my older boys were outside, Detectives Hunter Guiles and George Jadue quickly provided emergency medical services when every second mattered," he said.

Since that nearly tragic night, Gennaro said, he has learned more about just how dangerous the situation was and how lucky everyone was to come out of it alive.

"I have come to the conclusion that it is a miracle that everyone survived," he said. "The science of CO is clear — humans cannot survive the measured levels that were in the home for anywhere near the length of time that my family was in there. We are grateful to God and feel truly blessed."

Greenbaum said he had first spoken to Gennaro during when he had returned to his home while his family was hospitalized saying the man was "very distraught at the time."

Greenbaum said Mount Olive is no stranger to tragedy, so he was glad to see this instance end on a good note for everyone involved. Among the incidents the community has endured in recent years — two teen boys fell through the ice of Budd Lake and drowned, and firefighters found a father and son dead in a bathtub, as the father tried to protect the son from the flames around them.

"Time after time I have seen our first-responders , n action and I am always so grateful that these people that live in the community are so prepared for these events," he said. "There is nothing more important that we do as a municipal government than providing for the health and safety of our residents, and the first-responders really are on the front line of that effort."

As the family continues to move on from the events from the night, the mayor said, those who helped to save their lives will likely be recognized at some point in the future.

"We intended to do something for the first-responders and for the two residents who went into the house to aid the family, but we wanted to let some time pass to let the family heal, and to let the community heal," he said.

In addition to the local first-responders, assistance was also provided by the Budd Lake and Roxbury fire departments, the Stannhope-Netcong and Chester first aid squads, as well as Atlantic Ambulance and paramedics from Saint Clare's Hospital.

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Previous reporting by Dan Alexander was used in this story

Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or