Woman’s Autopsy May Shed Light on Toxic Soil Concerns

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WILDOMAR, Calif. (KTLA) — Kaylie Chicarrelli will never know her mother Fatima.

Her husband Tom was left to raise their newborn daughter after the 30-something mom died mysteriously just 24 hours after going to the ER for a flu-like cough.

“And the really bad part is Fatima didn’t know she was going there to die, she didn’t even kiss Kaylie goodbye,” Chicarrelli said.

Fatima and Tom were living in their dream home on Amaryllis Court in Wildomar.

It’s the Riverside County neighborhood where dozens of residents have complained that the soil trucked in to build their homes homes back in 2006 is now making them sick.

Tom fears the toxic soil led to his wife’s sudden death, and he says he wants answers.

Toxicologist Dr. Hildegarde Staninger believes Tom can find those answers in his wife’s recently-released autopsy report.

The Riverside County Coroner’s report says Fatima died from broncho-pneumonia.

It also shows unusually high levels of compounds including Barium, which is a potentially lethal metal element.

“It’s 2.2 times higher than a workplace exposure, which is very important because this is her home and she’s breathing something that shouldn’t be there,” Staninger said.

Fatima didn’t work with barium, and Tom says she was overall a healthy woman.

But he says she had been gardening just before she got sick. And Tom says — like others residents in the development — that it was common to dig up all kinds of plastic materials in their yard.

The State Department of Toxic Substances so far has refused to come test the soil.

But Staninger, who has been hired by the law firm to evaluate people living in the Autumnwood development, is convinced Fatima died of prolonged exposure to a combination of toxic chemicals in her home.

He says that other residents with similar symptoms are suffering the same.

“Their pneumonia is being caused by exposure to chemicals. It’s a chemical cocktail — we used to call it witches brew,” Staninger said.

Tom tried to return home a few weeks ago, but had to leave when he got sick and broke out in a rash.

“I was married a week, Kaylie was 3 weeks old. Come on somebody do something,” he pleaded.

“What happens if it happens to somebody else in the neighborhood? Then what are they going to do? What excuses are they going to have then?” he asked.

Fatima’s autopsy results have been sent to the DTSC.

All residents will be tested for barium now and the results will be compared with levels found in Fatima.

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