Over the weekend, we got news that a 34-year-old PwC India senior consultant was found dead at his Calcutta home. A maid noticed smoke and alerted the man’s parents, who lived downstairs. When the parents rushed into the room, they found their son’s bed partially in flames. Police and fire department officials initially suspected Sayan Chowdhury died of electrocution after discovering his charred body lying close to his charging laptop and iPod, headphones still in his ears. Police believe the man fell asleep with the laptop on.
“The preliminary post-mortem suggests he died of carbon monoxide inhalation, apparently while asleep,” joint commissioner of police Damayanti Sen said.
A friend told The Telegraph (India) that Chowdhury was “a very bright professional and had been rising fast in the organisation since switching from Cognizant Technology Solutions.” He leaves behind a six month old daughter and a wife, who also happens to work for PwC.
It is suspected at this time that Chowdhury died of carbon monoxide poisoning after the laptop charger short circuited in his tightly closed bedroom. The victim’s wife and newborn daughter were not in the home at the time, as they have been staying with his wife’s parents, who have been helping to care for the baby.
Experts suggest that it is possible the adapter attached to the power supply cord may have failed, leading to a 230-volt alternating current surge into the laptop, turning it into a death trap. Or, the battery may have got overcharged and exploded, spilling lethal chemicals on Chowdhury. Aside from the short circuit scenario, investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the fire and subsequent fatal CO inhalation was caused by a burning cigarette. “To identify the source of the CO, we have to wait for the forensic reports. The state forensic science laboratory officials collected samples of charred wire, the sample of half-burnt cigerettes,” an officer said.
What is the lesson here, kids? Well for one, don’t work too hard. Two, don’t leave your laptop on the charger. Three, don’t pass out with your laptop on the charger. Safety first!