Photo by Rain Smith.
Kingsport businessman Bill McConnell was found unresponsive Friday morning in an office of his automobile paint shop, where fire department officials discovered elevated levels of carbon monoxide throughout the building.
McConnell was transported from the East Stone Drive business, Bill McConnell Paint and Body Shop, to Holston Valley Medical Center by EMS. He was in stable condition late Friday morning.
Kingsport Fire Department Deputy Chief Jim Everhart identified the potential source of the carbon monoxide as gas powered equipment in the garage area, which was not burning off properly. Kingsport Police Department Det. Randy Murray says foul play is not suspected, adding faulty air returns may have played a part in the incident.
Along with poisoning the business owner, gas found throughout the building also killed a dog inside.
Shortly before 8 a.m. McConnell, who lives out of state and often stays in the business overnight, was located by employee David Moretz.
"I yelled at him, getting my paint orders in," said Moretz. "He mumbles and had one eye open, so I walked in the office and found the trash can beside him, where he'd been sick."
Employees called 911, with Moretz saying McConnell was slightly more coherent when loaded in an ambulance and taken to the hospital.
For more than two hours after responding Kingsport Fire department personnel worked the scene, pumping fresh air into the building and opening all the entrance doors and garage bays. Atmos Energy was also called in to turn off the natural gas supply.