Daughter's death sparks family effort - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Daughter's death sparks family effort

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A highly toxic camping supply takes the life of a near two year old girl. Now, her parents want to make sure the tragic accident never happens again.

After getting back from Afghanistan in July, Sgt. Cory Wells wanted to take a trip with his two daughters. "We had a list of things we wanted to do, a lot of fun things we wanted to do. The first thing was to go camping," said Cory.

They did eight days later at the Iowa Great Lakes. But, Cory never thought it would be one daughter's last trip. "We just set up the camp site, set up the tent, we were just getting things ready," Cory said.

That's when his 22-month old, Natalie, got a hold of a bottle of citronella oil. It's a toxic fuel for tiki torches.

Thinking it was juice, she swallowed some. Natalie became weak and was flown to Sioux Falls for treatment where she passed away.

"I only had her for about eight days," said Cory.

It's been a month since Natalie died, but Cory and his wife Bonnie have found a way to keep her memory alive. This weekend they'll hand out thousands of these flyers to campers at the Lakes. A warning, of the powerful poison that looks harmless to children like theirs.

"It comes in all different colors so it can be Kool-Aid, apple juice, anything," said Bonnie.

"It looks so innocent, but it's so deadly dangerous," said Cory.

The folks they met Thursday were happy to heed their words. Some, even offered a prayer for their lost loved one.

The Wells don't have plans to stop at campsites, their goal is to change the entire citronella market. "Get the manufactures to change the colors of the liquids, the colors of the bottles, make the caps better," said Bonnie.

The tiki toxin may have taken young "Natty", but the Wells are making sure her memory stays pure.

The Wells family says campers should be aware of not just citronella, but all hazardous chemicals at their sites.

They're getting help to spread the word from Hospice Iowa in Spirit Lake. The company furnished the cost of the thousands of flyers they've been handing out.

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