Young couple poisoned by carbon monoxide as they slept

The family and friends of a young couple who were poisoned by carbon monoxide as they slept in a makeshift cabin north-west of Sydney have shared outpourings of grief.Derek Kehler, 32, and Helena Curic, 31, are believed to have suffocated in their sleep as a woodchip fire burnt through the night in the converted shipping container on what was meant to be an idyllic long weekend with family.

“When they first moved to Sydney, they said it was just for a few months,” Mr Kehler’s friend and former flatmate, Zach Gray, told CBC News in Canada.

“But we all kind of knew that was just a pretense, and what was really happening was that they had found each other and they were riding off into the sunset together.”

The couple, who met in Canada, are believed to have suffocated in their sleep as a woodchip fire burnt through the night in the converted shipping container on what was meant to be an idyllic long weekend with family.

About 7.30am on Monday, Helena’s sister Natalie, who was staying in a neighbouring cabin, found the couple as they lay in the cabin on the Kurrajong property, about 75 kilometres north-west of Sydney.

She called for help, but paramedics could not revive them.

Mr Gray said Mr Kehler, a musician who used the name Steel Audrey, had performed “old-style, Johnny Cash-style country music about love and death and loneliness and heartbreak”.

“It’s music you can sort of lean against when things are hard, and that’s why we’ve been listening to his music so much in the last couple of days,” he said.

“It’s kind of equally comforting and heartbreaking that there’s so much of him in his own songs.

“He was such an easy guy to have around, because he’s such a seize-the-day kind of person.

“He had a really loud laugh and he used it all the time, at himself more than anyone. He also had a kind of depth and loyalty to him.”

Mr Gray described Ms Curic, a marketing and design manager at a Sydney graphic design company, as funny and brilliant.

“She just charmed us all immediately,” he said.

Derek’s mother posted a photo of her son to her Facebook page hours after the tragic deaths.

“Always in my heart xx,” she posted from her home in Manitoba, Canada.

Police are preparing a report for the coroner.

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