Autopsy reports released for 13 of 14 Sevier County wildfire victims

(Photo: WKRN)

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Autopsy results for 13 victims of the Sevier County wildfire victims were released.

Officials say 14 people died in the fires that ravaged the area in late November last year. The autopsy report for the 14th victim, May Vance, was not released because she died in a hospital two days later.

Of the 13 autopsies released, the cause of death for nine victims was determined smoke inhalation. The other three victims died of various circumstances:

  • Bradley Phillips was struck by a tree limb and then may have died from smoke inhalation, according to the final autopsy report.
  • John Tegler and Elaine Brown may have died due to health issues or due to an accident involving a car, according to medical examiners.
  • Reverend Ed Taylor died from cardiac stress, according to his final autopsy report.

Alice Hagler

Alice Hagler
Alice Hagler (Source: family)

Alice Hagler’s charred remains were discovered on the floor inside her burned down cabin at 544 Piney Butt Way in Gatlinburg. The 70-year-old’s main cause of death was ruled due to smoke inhalation because of a house fire.

Bradley William Phillips

Bradley Phillips (Source: Family)

Bradley Phillips, 59, was found dead near his residence on Long Hollow Road. According to the autopsy report, he was found face down, with a large tree branch on top of him.

The medical examiner’s office ruled Phillips’ death was caused by lack of air due to choking due to the tree limb falling on his torso and neck. Inhalation of smoke and burns may have also contributed to his death, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Constance, Lily and Chloe Reed

Michael Reed, Constance Reed, Chloe Reed, Lily Reed
(Courtesy: Michael Reed)

The remains of Constance, Lily and Chloe Reed were found inside their house, located at 616 Wiley Oakley Road in Gatlinburg.

Their remains were identified using dental records. The medical examiner said it was likely their deaths were caused by smoke inhalation.

Michael Reed, Constance Reed’s husband, said the last time he heard from his wife he told her to call 911 for help after she said she saw flames across the street.

Pam Johnson

Pam Johnson (Karyssa Dalton)

Pamela Johnson’s body was discovered in a severely damaged and burned room number #4 in Traveler’s Motel on Highway 321 in Gatlinburg.

The 59-year-old grandmother’s cause of death was ruled most likely due to smoke inhalation by the medical examiner’s office. The medical examiner also noted that severe burns may have also contributed to her death.

Reverend Ed Taylor

Reverend Ed Taylor

Reverend Ed Taylor’s body was found outside on an embankment outside of his home due where he attempted to flee from the fire, according to the medical examiner’s office.

The medical examiner’s office said Taylor had an enlarged and dilated heart. While a death due to smoke inhalation or exposure to flames couldn’t be ruled out, his final autopsy report ruled Taylor’s death was mostly likely a result of cardiac stress associated with fleeing the fire.

The World War II veteran was 85 and is originally from Johnson City. He has lived in Gatlinburg since 1978.

Elaine Brown

The National Park said Elaine Brown, 81, of Sevierville died after a car accident that happened on Wears Valley Road while she was trying to evacuate.

The medical examiner found multiple blunt force injuries. Brown’s final autopsy report says her car left the road while she was fleeing the fire. When EMS arrived she was in cardiac arrest.

First responders tried to resuscitate her. She was taken to LeConte Medical Center where she was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Her autopsy revealed she had a torn brain stem and a broken back.

Jon and Janet Summers

Summers family (source: Family via WKRN)
Summers family (source: Family via WKRN)

Jon and Janet Summers, of Memphis, were in the Great Smoky Mountains with their family for Thanksgiving.

The couple, both 61, were separated from their three sons while evacuating the cabin they were staying in. Their bodies were found down an embankment near the Village Loop in Chalet Village.

Janet Summers was identified by dental records. The toxicology result found elevated carbon monoxide levels suggestive of carbon monoxide poisoning. Her final autopsy report found it was likely she died from smoke inhalation.

Jon Summers was found with three cell phones near his body. His death was ruled due to smoke and soot due to the wildfire. Burns may have also contributed to his death.

John and Marilyn Tegler

John and Marilyn Tegler (Dave and Marnie Lapointe via CBC)
John and Marilyn Tegler (Dave and Marnie Lapointe via CBC)

John and Marilyn Tegler, of Canada, were vacationing at their home near Gatlinburg for the Thanksgiving weekend. Their bodies were found close to the home Skyline Drive in Chalet Village.

John Tegler, 71, was identified through dental records. The medical examiner questioned whether he fell down while trying to flee and was hit by one or more vehicles or if he collapsed and then was hit by a car. The final autopsy report said it was likely he collapsed.

The final autopsy report for Marilyn Tegler, 70, found her death was most likely caused by smoke inhalation.

Robert Hejny

Robert Hejny (source: family)
Robert Hejny (source: family)

Robert Hejny’s burned remains were found in a bed at Traveler’s Motel, located at 945 East Parkway in Gatlinburg.

The medical examiner ruled his main cause of death as carbon monoxide poisoning due to inhaling smoke and soot from the motel fire. The final autopsy report found the heat from the fire could have also been a cause of his death.

Click here for all of News 2’s coverage of the Sevier County wildfires.