DECATUR — The man killed in a Decatur Housing Authority apartment fire was “extremely intoxicated” in the moments leading up to his death, a coroner’s jury was told Thursday before ruling his death accidental.
Lynn A. Booker, 54, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.297 percent when he choked on smoke and soot in the fire Jan. 6 in his first-floor apartment at The Concord Apartments, 333 E. Center St.
“Now, .297 percent is extremely, extremely intoxicated,” Macon County Coroner Michael E. Day said. “In a person that did not drink, that could even be a toxic level.”
Decatur Fire Department inspector Capt. David Gagnon, said it appeared “smoking-related materials” belonging to Booker had sparked the fire on or near his bed.
Booker’s apartment was damaged badly by the flames and a Herald & Review story revealed the apartments do not have sprinkler systems, although the hallways and common areas do.
The inquest heard that if Booker had fallen asleep or passed out and a cigarette had set his bedding on fire, he would have succumbed quickly to toxic fumes. Day said his autopsy showed death came as the fire fumes exacerbated an underlying condition of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
In other inquests Thursday, the jury ruled the unrelated gunshot deaths of Marvin T. Murphy, 39, and Nathaniel D.A. Majors, 22, both of Decatur, as homicides.
Murphy died from a gunshot wound to the chest Christmas Day when Decatur police said an assailant shot him three times at a home in the 1600 block of North 32nd Street. Police said Floyd D. Banks is wanted on first-degree murder charges.
Majors, 22, died in the emergency room of Decatur Memorial Hospital on the night of Jan. 27 after suffering multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. Macon County Chief Deputy Coroner Dee Coventry told the coroner's jury the shooting death remained under investigation.
“At this point, we’re not sure what the series of events was that led up to this unfortunate shooting, is that correct?” Day asked her. “That is correct,” Coventry replied.
The jury also ruled the Jan. 18 traffic death of Todd Vance, 53, of Mount Zion, was accidental.
Decatur police patrol officer Lawrence Petrey said Vance and a female passenger were southbound on a curve of the Lakeshore Drive ramp to U.S. Business 51 when Vance lost control and his vehicle hit a concrete bridge support. Day said Vance died at the scene from a broken neck and severe “internal torso trauma.”