The death of a teenage boy in an incident that led to an apartment evacuation at 2025 California St. in September has been ruled a suicide.
William Liu, a 17-year-old Mountain View resident, committed suicide through "thiosulfate" toxic gas inhalation after being exposed to hydrogen sulfide, according to the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office.
James Liu, his father, was also found dead inside the apartment, though his death was ruled accidental.
The hydrogen sulfide gas, which is harmful to humans, spread outside the apartment and triggered an evacuation on Sept. 24 after reports of a "noxious smell." Fire crews located the bodies of both victims during the evacuation.
Investigators found that calcium sulfide and sulfuric acid were present in the apartment complex, as well as the byproducts of both chemicals, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, according to Shino Tanaka, spokeswoman for the Mountain View Police Department. Four police officers were sickened by the fumes and reported feeling lightheaded.
No suicide note was left with the two bodies, despite initial reports. Police said they did find "something" with the bodies that was being investigated, but declined to say what it was.
Hydrogen sulfide in lower concentrations can cause nausea, eye irritation and headaches, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Higher concentrations can lead to unconsciousness, serious eye damage and death.
James Liu was the store director of the Milk Pail Market in Mountain View and brother-in-law of Steve Rasmussen, the store's owner. Liu's niece, Kai Rasmussen, posted on the Milk Pail Facebook page shortly after the deadly incident and wrote that Liu was a "brilliant manager, buyer, and grocer who was greatly admired by our staff, customers, and vendors alike."
The incident forced residents in the 2025 California St. apartments as well as an adjacent apartment building to evacuate overnight. An estimated 30 to 40 evacuees were sheltered while the areas was cleared out.