Cafe Owner Dies Trapped in Cooler

He tripped robbery alarm, but cops thought it was false
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2012 2:35 AM CDT
Cafe Owner Dies Trapped in Cooler
Police believe Luther was killed by carbon dioxide fumes from the dry ice.   (Shutterstock)

The owner of a Nashville restaurant died inside its walk-in cooler after he accidentally locked himself in and wasn't rescued when he triggered a burglary alarm. Police say the restaurant placed dry ice inside the cooler to preserve food after a power outage Friday and owner Jay Luther, 47, died after going to check on the food Sunday night. A button that would have opened the cooler from the inside was broken and Luther, whose body was found by an employee Monday morning, didn't have his phone with him, reports the Tennessean.

Police believe Luther was killed by carbon dioxide fumes from the dry ice. "There is a possibility that Mr. Luther tried to use a piece of cardboard or something to go into the latch to try to open it," a police spokesman says. "There is evidence inside the cooler to suggest that." Luther apparently triggered an alarm inside the cooler after becoming trapped, but police responding to the call found the building dark and all the doors locked and decided it was a false alarm. Police are conducting an internal review of how officers responded to the alarm call. (Read more accidental death stories.)

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