GENEVA – A 2003 Geneva High School graduate, Raymond Allen Kaligian III, 28, died suddenly this month at his home in Houston, the result of a bizarre series of events, a family friend said.
Kaligian had been a star athlete in baseball and golf and a member of the National Honor Society while at Geneva. He graduated from the University of Illinois and was pursuing a promising career with the Phillips 66 Company as director of base oil sales. He was the only son of Ray and Bobbie Kaligian of Geneva.
Kaligian died Feb. 17 of carbon monoxide poisoning because his car's automatic starter turned on and the fumes traveled through a central vacuum duct that was dislodged, allowing the exhaust to go into his bedroom on the second floor, said his friend and Geneva School District 304 board member Michael McCormick. Kaligian's dog, a beagle-shepherd rescue named Willie, was sleeping next to him and also died, McCormick said.
McCormick, a family friend and a neighbor, said he had just returned from a memorial for Kaligian in Houston. A local memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Yurs Funeral Home, 1771 W. State St., Geneva.
McCormick said Kaligian's death had everyone, including homicide detectives, trying to figure it out. He said the family lived across the street, and he has known Kaligian since he was a teenager.
"A 28-year-old kid sleeping with his puppy dog – it just doesn't make sense," McCormick said. "He had such a good career going. As a school board member, I was proud of our district – that he was really making his way in the world. ... I talked to homicide detectives at length in Houston, and this one is making them scratch their heads ... It's absolutely heartbreaking."
McCormick said Houston detectives, reviewing his credit card records, saw Kaligian had filled his gas tank. While he was asleep, the car started for some reason and because the tank was full, ran for at least six and a half hours.
The vacuum connection is a type of unit vacuum cleaner, he said.
"You just plug the hose into the wall, hit a button and it makes it easy to vacuum the carpet in the house," McCormick said. "Normally these things are sealed up. This little pipe in the garage – for whatever reason – was dislodged, and they think the fumes went into his room."
McCormick said he went to Texas to identify Kaligian.
"To see him like that was wrong," McCormick said. "He was such as good boy. … He was a standout, a special kid. My five kids loved him like he was an older brother. They all loved him."