Report reveals cause of death for Houston firefighters in hotel inferno

The exact “manner of death” based on the cause of the fire has been categorized as “undetermined”


HOUSTON — Investigators have determined the cause of death for four Houston fire firefighters who were killed battling a hotel blaze in May.

According to The Houston Chronicle, a report released by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences says:

  • Engineer Operator EMT Robert Bebee, 41, died of smoke inhalation with thermal injuries.
  • Probationary Firefighter Ann Sullivan, 24, died of compressional asphyxia coupled with blunt head trauma and smoke inhalation.
  • Firefighter EMT Robert Garner, 29 died from compressional asphyxia.
  • Capt. EMT Matthew Renaud, 35, died from smoke inhalation

The firefighters were killed when a section of the roof and wall collapsed at the Southwest Inn.

The “manner of death,” which explains how the cause of death arose – in this case related to the cause of the fire – has been classified as “undetermined,”

Other classifications for manner of death include: natural, accident, homicide and suicide. Undetermined is “used when the information pointing to one manner of death is no more compelling than one or more other competing manners of death when all available information is considered," according to the HCIF website.

HCIF spokeswoman Tricia Bentley said the determination was “based on the evidence that forensic pathologists have at this point,” and the investigation is closed. 

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