ELIMSPORT - A malfunctioning coal stove is being blamed for the death of a corrections officer who investigators said died of carbon monoxide fumes that filled his bi-level home on Route 44 in Washington Township.
Elwood Henry Dewald Jr., 62, was found dead in his home at 17382 Route 44 about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, Lycoming County Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr. said.
Dewald was a corrections officer at the state Correctional Institution at Muncy, sources told the Sun-Gazette.
Preliminary blood tests showed that Dewald had very high levels of carbon monoxide in his body, said Kiessling, who pronounced the man dead at the scene. The death has been ruled accidental, Kiessling added.
The victim had collapsed on the floor, less than five feet from the front door, Washington Township Fire Chief Bob Ulrich said.
Several dead cats also were found inside the home, but eight kittens were found alive and were handed over to a concerned citizen, who is taking care of them.
Dewald, who lived alone, was discovered after concerned colleagues at the prison went to the house to check on his welfare because he had failed to show up for work, Kiessling said.
A carbon monoxide meter detected "very high, dangerous levels" of the odorless poisonous gas inside the home, Ulrich said.
A fire was burning in a Stoker stove as well as in the stove's reservoir bin, about two feet above the unit, Ulrich said. There should never be a fire in the bin, he added.
Investigators believe that Dewald died sometime Wednesday. "He was last seen outside his home on Monday by neighbors," Kiessling said.