Three dead in Hixson shed; medical examiner suspects carbon monoxide poisoning

Staff photo by Ellen Gerst / Authorities put up caution tape to secure an area off Dallas Lake Road on Friday.

Three people were found dead Friday on Dallas Lake Road in Hixson, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

A medical examiner on the scene said he suspects the three adults may have died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The bodies, two male and one female, were found around 1 p.m. in a red metal shed on a property in the 1500 block of Dallas Lake Road, medical investigator Tim Carroll said in an interview at the scene.

(READ MORE: Work begins on turning Hixson's former Dupont plant into $100 million industrial park)

Sheriff's deputies closed a small section of the road Friday afternoon during the investigation.

Investigators were working to identify the deceased and had spoken to the families of two of them as of Friday afternoon, Carroll said. Another man was found in the shed alive and without apparent injuries, according to Carroll, and left the scene with a family member.

There were no visible injuries or signs of trauma on the bodies, Carroll said. An investigator said officials have not ruled out any suspected criminal activity at this time but added that there was no evidence of homicide or suicide at the scene.

(READ MORE: Three dozen townhouses planned for Hixson Pike site in Chattanooga)

A heater and small propane tank, empty but with an open valve, were also found at the scene, investigators said.

The man found alive at the scene reportedly told investigators that the shed was new to the property, placed there as recently as Wednesday. Carroll said there was a bed inside and several other items indicating someone had slept there. The shed stands next to the remains of a house that burned several years ago, investigators said.

The bodies should be examined Saturday or Monday, Carroll said.

Investigators were awaiting an ambulance to transport the bodies on Friday evening. They said service was delayed by several crashes in the area.

(READ MORE: Workers at East Brainerd construction site hospitalized after exposure to carbon monoxide)

Carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless, but poisoning can be avoided by installing and frequently maintaining battery-powered or battery-backed detectors, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. If a detector goes off, residents should leave their home immediately and call 911, the CDC says.

Heating systems, water heaters and other gas or oil-powered appliances should also be regularly inspected for leaks, according to the CDC. Avoid running cars inside attached garages, even with a door open, CDC guidelines state.

Contact Ellen Gerst at or 423-757-6319. Follow her on Twitter @ellengerst.