Orkin Exterminators ... fumigate a couple to death.


In September 1986, Orkin exterminators Daymon Darrell Robertson, 44, and Ronald Dean Mullins, 26, pumped 250 pounds of the chemical into the sealed Watson home. Neither had a fumigator's license, police say.

They removed the a tarpaulin covering the house, opened the windows and doors and used fans to clear the air, but they did not test the air inside the house as "required on the product label," the agency said.

No one was allowed to enter for 17 hours. But soon after the Watson's returned they became ill. Watson died in September and his wife died in October.

The two employees of the Roanoke, Va., exterminating company were indicted on two counts of involuntary manslaughter and failing to apply a pesticide in accordance to label directions. Manslaughter and misapplication charges against the company were dismissed several months ago.

At a July trial, the two employees agreed to plead guilty to the misapplication charge in exchange for having the manslaughter charges dropped. They were fined $1,000 each, ordered to serve two years' probation and to perform 200 hours of community service each.

Copyright 1987, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, All rights reserved.

By Steve Sternberg Science

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