Large funeral expected for Moorhead family killed by carbon monoxide poisoning

The funeral for five of the seven members of the Hernandez-Pinto family will be Friday, Jan. 14.

Moorhead family photo
The Hernandez-Pinto family.
Photo via Facebook

MOORHEAD, Minn. — The arrangements for one of the largest funerals in the Fargo-Moorhead area since 1890 have been set for the seven people who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in a Moorhead home on Dec. 18.

Visitation will be from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 14, at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Moorhead. The funeral will begin at 11 a.m., and death notices of five members of the Hernandez-Pinto family indicate they will be interred at Riverside Cemetery in Moorhead.

The family, originally from the Honduran town of San Francisco de Yojoa, died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their twin home at 4403 13th St. S., police announced on Dec. 22 before saying they are still looking into the source of the gas.

Belin Hernandez, 37, and his wife, Marleny Pinto Orellana, 34, were found on the floor of their children's upstairs bedroom, according to the police. The children, 16-year-old Breylin Hernandez, 7-year-old Mike Hernandez and 5-year-old Marbely Hernandez, were found in their beds.

A statement released from Moorhead Area Public Schools reported the children attended S.G. Reinertsen Elementary and Moorhead High School.


Belin Hernandez's 32-year-old brother , Eldor Hernandez Castillo, and the couple's 19-year-old niece, Mariela Pinto Orellana, 19, were also found in their beds in a separate room.

Death notices for Belin Hernandez and his brother Eldor Hernandez Castillo were not available. It is unclear if they will be part of the funeral services.

Evidence points to an accident, Moorhead Police Department Chief Shannon Monroe said during a news conference in late December, adding there was no indication of negligence or foul play in the incident.

Police still don't know the source of the carbon monoxide poisoning, but they narrowed it down to a vehicle in the garage that had a half-tank of gas and a dead battery, as well as a furnace located in a separate room in the garage.

It could take eight weeks to receive blood tests to determine the source, Moorhead Police Captain Deric Swenson said, adding the department had no additional information.

Officials also couldn't get a clear read on the carbon monoxide levels in the home after the incident, interim Fire Chief Jeff Wallin said in late December.

Since the tragedy, people in the community launched multiple fundraiser campaigns for the family’s funeral proceedings.

News outlets in Honduras reported that Teodora Castillo, the mother of the two brothers who died, was calling for the repatriation of her family’s bodies back to Honduras, according to a video by the Honduran news program Hoy Mismo.


Some of the family members were “the ones who provided the food” for surviving relatives left behind in Honduras, said a man introduced in the Hoy Mismo video as the father . He was not identified by name. In Spanish, the man also said that his children “suffered so much on the trip to America only to die.”

The funeral service is one of the largest arranged in the Fargo-Moorhead area. In 1890, seven children of the McCarty family died during a storm that some believed to be a tornado after they were buried in shifting coal, according to Forum archives. The funeral took place at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and more than 600 people attended the service.

In 1957, a tornado claimed up to 13 lives, six of them children belonging to the Munson family, and injured 150 others in the Fargo-Moorhead area, according to Forum archives . The funeral for the children took place at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead.

Wright Funeral Home is handling the Hernandez-Pinto funeral arrangements.

C.S. Hagen is an award-winning journalist currently covering the education and activist beats mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota.
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