Parents sue in carbon monoxide death

23-year-old died when neighbor left car running overnight

Rebecca Hawk

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Exactly six months after a 23-year-old woman died of carbon monoxide poisoning in her Tampa-area apartment, her parents in Jacksonville are filing suit for negligence.

Investigators said Rebecca Hawk died after her next-door neighbor accidentally left his car running in the garage that shared a wall with her Hillsborough County apartment. The gas seeped through cracks in the wall.

"We miss her every single day," said Sandra Hawk, Rebecca's mother, who wore her daughter's necklace while looking at pictures of her. "There's nothing that I can do that I don't think about Rebecca, that I don't miss her and wish she was here. That I would give anything in the whole world to go back six months."

On Sept. 1, Rebecca Hawk died in her bed. She had just landed her dream job as a child protective investigator in Tampa.

"All we wanted to do was for her to live a long life," Sandra said. "I didn't want her to go to heaven before me. She was finally finding her way in the world, starting a job that she really wanted, that she really looked forward to, that she really enjoyed. She was happy. We were happy."

Rebecca Hawk's neighbor, Andrew Grywalski, made a video online explaining what happened. He said he drove home from art class, backed into the driveway and accidentally left the key in the ignition.

"The one memory that significantly sticks out from that day is when I saw two women being pulled out on stretchers, and that moment I completely freaked out, broke down," he said. "And I dropped to the floor and the first thing I started doing was praying to God that she was alright."

Attorney Steve Combs said the situation was foreseeable and could have easily been prevented. He said he filed suit against the landlords, the construction design companies and the Grywalskis.

"We want to fight for our baby. Her life was worth something," said Doug Hawk, Rebecca's father, whose bracelet reads "Becky's Dad." "As we looked into the situation, we noticed that there were multiple different steps that could've been taken that could have prevented this tragedy from happening."

Rebecca's organs were too poisoned to donate, but her mom said someone was able to use her eyes -- eyes her parents would do anything to look through again.

"We want to make sure this type of event doesn't happen to anyone else as well," Doug said.

Rebecca would have turned 24 at the end of this month.

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