Man dies of smoke inhalation Caused by furnace malfunction in West Lampeter
BY RYAN ROBINSON, Staff Writer
A 62-year-old man was found dead in his West Lampeter Township home Monday night, and a coroner said accidental smoke inhalation is what killed him.
Jeffery Mutschler, of of the 600 block of Beaver Valley Pike, was pronounced dead at the scene, Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni said.
"He may have died a couple days prior to being found," the coroner said after an autopsy Tuesday. "He died from complications of smoke inhalation. The death was ruled accidental."
Mutschler's sister called 911 shortly after 7 p.m. to ask authorities to check on her brother, according to Diamantoni and a county dispatch supervisor.
West Lampeter Township police found Mutschler dead inside his home, Diamantoni said.
A malfunctioning oil furnace was blamed for Mutschler's death.
Officials believe the furnace malfunctioned, causing the house to fill with smoke, soot and possibly carbon monoxide, Diamantoni said. Those conditions "fairly suddenly" killed Mutschler, who had previously suffered from severe heart disease and lung disease.
"[Mutschler] was covered with soot and there was soot in his airways," the coroner said. "Carbon monoxide may have played a role but there was sufficient soot in his airways that smoke itself could have been the reason for his death."
Lampeter Fire Company Deputy Chief John Alexander said he did not know what caused the furnace malfunction.
The malfunction tripped a breaker, stopping electricity flow to the furnace, he said. Smoke eventually cleared, leaving only a layer of soot throughout the home.
When Alexander checked the air in the home Monday night, he determined it was safe for emergency responders.
Smoke did not kill Mutschler's dog, Diamantoni noted. The canine was guarding Mutschler's body when police arrived.
West Lampeter Township police Det. Jere Schuler confirmed the death was not suspicious.