PLAISTOW — Kirk Walsh was a rising star at ACN Inc., a direct sales company where he had worked his way up to the position of regional director.
On his personal ACN business website, Walsh outlined his professional goals, writing, “With great enthusiasm and positive energy, Kirk is on a quest to change people’s lives, give them hope and accomplish his purpose in life.”
But his dreams were cut short by a deadly carbon monoxide leak inside his Plaistow home that also killed business associates and friends MaryAnn Comparato, 47, and John Adams Jr., 28.
The state Fire Marshal’s Office on Thursday positively identified the three as the victims who were found dead late Tuesday morning inside Walsh’s home at 5 Center Circle.
A fourth man, identified as Keith Small, survived but is fighting for his life at Massachusetts General Hospital. He has remained in critical condition.
“It’s a tragedy. Obviously you don’t wish this upon anybody,” said Steve Ranlett, who lives in the neighborhood and knew Walsh.
Walsh and the others had just returned from an ACN convention in North Carolina Sunday night.
Frank Licata of Andover, Mass., also an ACN business associate, said they slept over at Walsh’s house that night.
Friends and colleagues became concerned when they couldn’t reach them during the day Monday. By Tuesday, they notified police, who showed up to check on them and discovered Walsh, Comparato and Adams dead and Small barely coherent and struggling while still in bed. All were overcome by the odorless fumes that filled the house because of a problem with a propane heating system.
Fire investigators are still analyzing the heating system and its installation to determine the cause of the leak.
According to Fire Marshal’s Office, the investigation will likely last several days.
The deaths sent shockwaves through Walsh’s neighborhood and ACN, where Walsh became regional director in 2008.
ACN President Greg Provenzano issued a statement expressing the grief felt by the many who knew the victims.
“The entire ACN family has been shaken to the core by the devastating and unexpected loss of Kirk, MaryAnn and John. These individuals were an incredible asset to our organization and to the countless lives they touched along the way. We are honored to have known them and privileged they decided to share their lives and talents with us,” he said in a prepared statement.
Provenzano also offered prayers for Small as he fights for his life, adding, “We witness the power of prayer every day and have faith he will pull through with a fighter’s heart. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all their families, and hope they take some comfort in knowing each of these incredible people truly left their mark on the world.”
ACN spokesman Katie Mapel said they were not employees of the company, but were independent business owners.
ACN is a direct seller of telecommunications, energy and other services and offers individuals an opportunity to build their own business with the support of ACN, Mapel said.
“Kirk was our leader. He was a prodigy in the organization,” said Frank Licata of Andover, Mass., who met Walsh and Comparato when he joined the organization after a presentation at Comparato’s Andover, Mass., home in 2012.
Comparato was a special education instructional assistant for the Andover School District for three years but left last year, according to the school.
Licata said Walsh and Comparato were good friends and that Walsh often hosted business colleagues at his residence.
“He was very business-minded. He had his eye on the ball and knew where he wanted to be,” he said.
Walsh was known for hosting volleyball games and a summer barbecue for ACN associates.
“He would use his own personal funds to do things above and beyond what the company would do,” Licata said.
Ranlett said he plowed Walsh’s driveway a few times last year when he had business meetings at his house.
He and other neighbors have offered to help plow the yard until the family decides the next step.
Ranlett, who also chairs the town’s planning board, stopped to offer his condolences to Walsh’s parents when he saw them in the neighborhood Thursday.
“I can’t imagine their loss. I can’t say I know what it’s like. I don’t know what it’s like,” he said.