A Nashville restaurateur who was found dead in a walk-in refrigerator
died of suffocation from carbon dioxide in the cooler, and was likely
overcome by the gas in a matter of minutes, the Nashville medical
examiner ruled today.
Jay Luther, 47, was found dead Monday morning in the cooler of the
Germantown East Cafe. Luther, who was co-owner of the cafe pressed a
burglar alarm in the cooler that called police to the scene.
There were no signs of foul play, police said.
The restaurant had been closed for the weekend because of a planned
power outage. Dry ice had been used to keep food cool for the weekend,
When Luther went to check on the food Sunday night, he became stuck. The
internal latch had reportedly been malfunctioning prior to the weekend,
The restaurateur didn't have his cellphone, but he tripped the burglar
alarm in the cooler, hoping officers would respond to free him.
Three officers and one sergeant arrived within five minutes of
receiving the call, but did not investigate after "they found the
building to be dark and all doors secure."
"Given that the restaurant was totally secured and closed, and given
that electrical surges have been known to cause errant alarms, the
officers elected not to force their way into the restaurant. The alarm
call was coded as false," the department said in a statement.
Nashville police Chief Steve Anderson has ordered a review of police response to the incident.
Luther was remembered as an "awesome guy" and was "very well loved," Jay
Allis, the kitchen manager at the restaurant, told ABC News' Nashville affiliate WKRN.
A recording at the Germantown East Cafe said it would remain closed for
"an indeterminate amount of time due to a tragedy in our Germantown Cafe