Did bleach kill a Rockland County man?

September 20, 2010 2:49:23 PM PDT
Police are investigating what may be a freak accident.

A 50-year-old Rockland County man may have died after accidently inhaling bleach while cleaning.

"He does everything himself, a real handyman," Jose Vega said.

Vega saw his neighbor about 8:00 Saturday morning spraying bleach on his rear deck before breaking out the power washer.

Hours later, Matthew Kafka of Mill Street in Sloatsburg was dead.

"Matt was perfect. A good neighbor. Never bothered nobody. Never heard him yell. A very nice man," Vega said.

Kafka's distraught family members told us the 50-year-old suffered a heart attack and died at Good Samaritan hospital in Suffern.

However, Ramapo police and the county medical examiner are investigating whether the victim inhaled bleach before he collapsed.

County haz-mat responders found a liquid sprayer and a bottle of bleach at the scene.

"At the end of all the containment we metered the house to make sure it was safe and everything was fine," Dan Moran, Rockland County Deputy Fire Coordinator - Hazardous Materials, said.

Investigators say it's possible Kafka previously used the sprayer with another household cleaning agent that, when mixed with bleach, could create a toxic gas.

"(The combination) can be dangerous in one form or another. You might get a fire because of a mixing of the materials," Moran said.