Families of Sevier County wildfire start to receive autopsies

(Courtesy: Murfreesboro Fire and Rescue Department)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – Almost eight months after the Gatlinburg fires, the families of victims are starting to receive autopsy and forensic reports.

The body of Robert Hejny, 63, was discovered at Traveler’s Motel in Gatlinburg. Hejny’s family provided his autopsy report, which said he was lying in bed, fully clothed, and had a room key with him.

The report showed the direct cause of his death was carbon monoxide poisoning from inhalation of smoke and soot from the burning motel. Severe burns were also a contributing factor.

“That gives me some relief because I’m a retired nurse. I feel like he breathed in carbon monoxide and was disoriented and everything, and so hopefully he died before the flames got to him,” said Hejny’s sister, Georgette Smith.

The report, which was completed on Dec. 1 and reported to the state on Jan. 18, called his death a homicide because at that time the fire had been deemed arson. State charges have since been dropped against the two juveniles who had been accused of starting the Chimney Tops 2 fire.

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