ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The parents of a young man who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a fish house were recognized on the Minnesota House floor on Thursday.

Lawmakers are pushing for the Department of Natural Resources to better educate people about exposure to the deadly gas.

“He was the love of my life,” mom Paula Schooley said.

With each day that passes, Schooley remembers how her son Sam enriched her life.

“He was so caring, thoughtful, funny. He really had a heart for other people,” Schooley said.

It’s in that spirit she recognizes the importance of educating others about carbon monoxide exposure. Friends found the 21-year-old unresponsive in the top bunk of a fish house while at the Eelpout Festival. It had a carbon monoxide detector, but was near the ground and the odorless gas rises.

“The provision that is in this bill is going to create a working group at no cost to come together with interested stakeholders to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Representative Jim Nash said on the House floor.

Nash recognized his friends, Sam’s parents, Tom and Paula Schooley, on the House floor. Their loss prompted the provision.

“There’s small villages on every lake in the winter and there are a lot of people that can be saved moving forward if we create a sense of education and best practices,” Nash said.

The Schooley’s hope their heartache will help inform other families.

“We all go through trials and tribulations but there’s no greater loss than the loss of a child. I’m so grateful to everybody who’s on board with this,” Schooley said.

In a statement, Col. Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Division of Enforcement said, “We understand the risks associated with carbon monoxide exposure and the desire to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in fish houses. There are a wide variety of fish house types in use in Minnesota, and we’re fully supportive of efforts to identify best practices to reduce fish house and ice shelter user exposure to carbon monoxide. Minnesota is home to several fish house manufacturers and we look forward to working with them and others on this effort.”

The DNR has agreed to promote a video about Sam and the dangers of carbon monoxide if the family produces one. You can help the families fundraising efforts by donating to the Sam Schooley CO Video Fund at Klein Bank in Waconia, Account Number 3358259.

Jennifer Mayerle

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