|Fire kills 45-year-old man|
|Friday, February 18, 2011|
By Marjorie Lloyd
One man died as a result of a fire in a house on Hartsville Pike last weekend. Doug Johnson, 45 years old, from Morristown, in East Tennessee, was the victim of an accident that caused severe brain injury, according to his niece, also a resident of Morristown. Johnson had been a resident in the two-story home on Hartsville Pike, used by 21st Century Living Services as a long-term residence for adults who have suffered a brain trauma that renders them incapable of living alone.
Unofficial reports state that on Saturday, Feb. 12, the caregiver for the facility was preparing Johnson for a bath and was called downstairs by another resident, yelling for a fire extinguisher. By the time the caregiver attempted to run back upstairs, the fire had spread and Johnson was unable to be reached.
The severely burned man was transported to Sumner Regional Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries.
Initially the emergency calls related that a child was trapped upstairs.
“This scared the dispatchers, the firefighters and everyone,” said Gallatin Fire Department Fire Marshall Stan Gwaltney. However, when the first responders arrived on site, they learned that an adult, not a child, was trapped. According to other reports, two of the residents continued to fight the fire until the firefighters arrived.
Currently, Gwaltney is investigating the cause of the fire. He stated, “This is an accidental fire that occurred.”
If smoke inhalation is determined to be the actual cause of death, Gwaltney stated that it happens quickly: “It only takes a matter of seconds.”
The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities has investigated the facility and found that the home does not fall under their jurisdiction.
Sarah Lingo, Communications Director, said on Tuesday, “They determined that it fell under the category of Adult House Level 2 with the Tennessee Department of Health.
“We have turned over the results of our investigation to the Department of Health,” added Lingo.
Andrea Turner, Community Relations Director for the Department of Health, stated, “We are very early in the investigation process, but we are aware of the urgency associated with this and are hoping to come to some resolution very quickly because it affects the lives and safety of individuals. We are taking the matter very seriously.”
She said,“Some rules went into effect in November 2010 that govern facilities that house individuals with brain injuries. At the state level, we are looking at this to see if there should be some licensing.”
21st Century Living Services, which has been in business since 1989, offers programs for people with acquired brain injuries or spinal cord injuries.
The company, owned by Loney and Joan Hutchins, reportedly has 11 properties, and three are listed as licensed by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.
These three licensed facilities are for mental retardation adult habilitation day service and adult residential treatment.
The house on Hartsville Pike is part of the company’s Long-term Residential Services.
The Hutchins have expressed their condolences to the family of Mr. Johnson. Mr. Hutchins stated," We are sorry for this tragedy and concerned for the family."