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Deaths of two men in Waynesboro home ruled accidental

vehicle had been left running in garage

August 20, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The deaths of two men found in a Park Street home Friday have been ruled accidental, concluding an investigation by local police and the Franklin County (Pa.) Coroner's Office.

Investigators believe that Stuart A. DeWease Jr., 49, forgot to turn off his vehicle when he arrived home from work early Friday, Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said in a news release issued Wednesday.

DeWease and Keith Rohrer, 22, were found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning that afternoon. A vehicle had been left running in the garage at 614 Park St., which is off West Eighth Street across from the north side of the Potomac Shopping Center.

The news release stated that DeWease, a diabetic who suffered from episodes of hypoglycemia, seemed confused and had difficulty clocking out at the end of his shift at 1 a.m. at Beck Manufacturing in Waynesboro. A colleague followed DeWease to make sure he arrived home safely.

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"From this information, it is surmised that when Mr. DeWease exited his automobile, he forgot to shut it off," Conner wrote in the news release.

When a family member visited DeWease on Friday, the deceased man was found in a normal sleeping position on his bed, Conner said.

Firefighters discovered Rohrer on the basement floor near a door, which led investigators to believe he had become disoriented while trying to escape.

The garage is attached to the first floor of the house and is lower than the main level. The garage door and the door leading to the kitchen were closed.

While the wall between the house and garage had been built solidly, a single concrete brick was removed because of a sump pump in the basement, the news release stated.

The open area left by that removed block served as the point for the carbon monoxide to enter the house, the news release stated.

Carbon monoxide levels were higher in the basement than other areas of the house, and the level of toxins in Rohrer's blood was higher, Conner said.

"An experiment performed during the investigation also produced the fact that the running car could only be faintly heard in the kitchen adjacent to the garage," Conner wrote in the news release.

Waynesboro Police Chief Mark King said that six officers responded to the original call, but two investigators then worked closely with Conner's office over the past several days.

"It's been a joint effort the whole way as far as cause and manner" of death, King said.

King said the investigation is considered complete.

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