Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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October 18, 2012


Communism escapee, local chef also survives CO poisoning

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Otto Kurcsics, the ninth of nine children from a Hungarian village, knows hard work, the hardships of communism and the adventures of escaping to freedom, but his experience with carbon monoxide leaves him most emotional.

Kurcsics, who became a internationally recognized chef after years of apprenticeship and study, lives in Williamsville with his wife Sharon. A faulty gas furnace nearly claimed his life last week and he credits his cat “Mookey” for saving his life.

Mookey, a 10-year-old tabby, died. Three other cats survived.

Kurcsics, who is a culinary arts instructor at the Orleans/Niagara Board or Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) in Sanborn, wells up with tears when he talks about Mookey. The father of four and new grandfather told colleagues the story through email.

This is an abridged version of Kurcsics’ story:

”I started up the furnace for the first time this year and everything checked out and we thought we were protected. We weren’t. We went to bed soon after the horrendous football game, not thinking that we might not wake up in the morning. Then the unthinkable happened. The furnace malfunctioned and filled the house with carbon monoxide. 

”We are alive today by the grace of God and one of our beloved cats, Mookey, who always came to wake us up before, didn’t. I instead he was crying the most distressing cry I have ever heard. Even so, we were completely paralyzed by the effect of the CO. I somehow was able to get up... I found Mookey on the kitchen floor lying down, kicking and was unable to get up. I realized something bad happened and started to open all the doors and windows and, as sick as my wife was, she called 911. 

”All but one of the cats were located. Mookey needed to be put down. He gave his life to wake us, warn us. The greatest cat on earth saved our lives,” Kurcsics said.

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