Nathan and Brenda Toone of Layton, Utah, noticed some voles around their property. So they did what many folks do: they called an exterminator. That call led to a horrific tragedy that costs the Toones' young daughters their lives and has another area man wondering what went wrong.  

Rebecca Toone, 4, and her sister, Rachel Toone, 15 months, died within just a few short days after Coleman Nocks, an exterminator with Bergman Pest and Lawn Inc., applied rodent pesticide around their home in February 2010.

Nocks has now been charged with two counts of negligent homicide in connection with the deaths of the Toone sisters. Investigators believe that Nocks used the pesticide Fumitoxin too close to the girls' home, exposing the girls to dangerous levels of phosphine gas. According to the Office of the Medical Examiner's report, the two girls had "elevated phosphorous levels and lung damage consistent with inhaling a harmful substance."

Aluminum phosphide, the pesticide commonly used to kill voles and other rodents. It is buried in pellet form in the ground. When the pellets come in contact with the moisture in the soil, they fizz and dissolve, releasing the phosphine gas that kills rodents.

Although liscened to handle aluminum phosphide, officials say Nocks buried the pellets too close to the girls house — even right next to the home's front steps — rather than adhering to the proper application protocol, which according to the manual on Fumitoxin warns that the pesticide should not be placed "into a burrow system that is within 15 feet" of an occupied building, "especially residences."

Coleman Nocks will face trial for the deaths of Rebecca and Rachel Toone in May.

When it comes to tragedies, this one is a doozy. My heart goes out to the Toone family.  

[via Standard Examiner]

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