Autopsy: Restaurant Co-Owner Died Of Accidental Suffocation
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An autopsy found that the co-owner of an east Nashville restaurant found inside the walk-in cooler died from accidental suffocation by carbon dioxide inhalation.
Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Adele Lewis said 47-year-old Jay Luther would have been overcome by carbon dioxide within two to five minutes after walking into the cooler at Germantown Café East.
Police said there was a power outage on Friday night, and the restaurant put dry ice inside the cooler to preserve the food. When the power was restored on Sunday, police think he went inside to check on the food and the cooler door shut.
Police said the interior door release was broken, and the plunger part of the release mechanism was located by police on a shelf outside of the cooler.
Police said Luther did not have his cell phone with him. It was found Monday in his nearby condo.
No one else was at the business at the time. His body was found Monday morning after an employee showed up for work and called the other co-owner to come let him in.
Officials said that cooler was equipped with a robbery alarm. On Sunday night, the alarm was tripped, and Metro Police officers responded to the restaurant. They found all the doors to be locked and secure and a sign on the door giving notice that the business was closed due to a power outage
According to police, electrical surges have been known to cause errant alarms, so the officers on the scene chose not to force their way into the restaurant and reported the alarm as false.
Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson has ordered a review of Sunday night's response to ensure that it was appropriate based on the information available at the time.