David Harris | By David Harris |
on December 25, 2013 at 1:46 PM, updated December 25, 2013 at 3:39 PM

GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, MI – The storm that left tens of thousands of people in Genesee County without power on Christmas turned deadly after an 84-year-old man operating a generator in his garage died from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Police and firefighters found an 84-year-old man unresponsive in an enclosed garage with a generator around 11 p.m. Tuesday at a home in the Fenton Road and Hill Road area, said Grand Blanc Township Police Chief David Stamm. The home did not have any power due to the ice storm last weekend, he said.

The man was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. His wife also was in the home and was taken to the hospital. She is expected to recover, said Stamm. Police found both the home and the garage with high levels of carbon monoxide.

With the sound of several generators humming around the neighborhood near the Ottawa Hills subdivision, neighbors said the man volunteered to plow the subdivision streets and even was out after the ice storm moving trees.

“He would be working in the yard. He was a young 84,” said neighbor Jim Taylor. “He wasn’t an 84-year-old who would just sit around.”

Taylor and his wife were sitting at home watching TV in their generator-powered home when they noticed the fire truck lights. Taylor went outside to see what all the commotion was about and was told the news.

“We’re having a hard time,” said Anne Taylor. “It’s just like, ‘Wow.’ It’s pretty hard.”

Police have not yet released the man’s name. A man who answered the door at the home declined comment.

The man was proud of the subdivision and was one of the first to live there, neighbors said.

“When we were on vacation he would mow our lawn so it wouldn’t look bad,” Anne Taylor said. “He did it so people wouldn’t know we were gone.”

As of early Wednesday afternoon, nearly 46,000 or 22 percent of Genesee County Consumers Energy customers remained without power. There were about 16,000 outages in Flint, 4,800 in Grand Blanc, 4,000 in Burton and Davison, 3,000 in Fenton and 2,400 in Flushing.

Some estimated restoration times remain as late as Saturday, although some customers have been told their power could return still tonight.

There are 129,000 customers without power statewide, but more customers are without power in Genesee County than most areas, according to Consumers. It is the company’s largest Christmas-week storm in its 126-year history and its largest ice storm in more than 10 years.

“We will continue staffing around the clock until restoration is complete,” said Mary Palkovich, Consumers Energy’s vice president of energy delivery, in a statement. “We know this has been difficult on our customers.”

Nearly 3,000 Consumers Energy employees and contractors from 11 states and Washington D.C. are working on restoring the power, the company says.

This is the second Christmas in a row that a Genesee County family suffered a loss because of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning.