Exclusive: Firefighter Patrick Wolterman died of smoke inhalation

4:35 p.m Wednesday, March 2, 2016 Crime news

Two months after Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman was killed in an arson fire, Butler County Coroner Lisa Mannix has ruled smoke inhalation as the cause of death, according to a coroner’s report obtained exclusively by the Journal-News.

Mannix also officially ruled Wolterman’s death a homicide. While Hamilton police have already been investigating the case as a homicide, only the county coroner can make that official determination.

The coroner’s report states, “Patrick Wolterman, age 28 …. died on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015 at 2:26 a.m. at the Fort Hamilton Hospital Emergency Room. The coroner’s office was notified of the death at 2:50 a.m. by dispatcher of the Butler County Sheriff.”

The report submitted by Andy Willis, coroner’s investigator, says, “The story given to the Butler County Coroner’s Office at the hospital by the Hamilton Fire Department staff was decedent was firefighter on duty with Engine 25 responding to house fire at 1310 Pater Ave., Hamilton, Ohio. The decedent and another firefighter reportedly made entry through the front door and the decedent fell through the main floor into the basement. The decedent was found and transported to the hospital.”

Autopsy results indicate, “the cause of death was determined to be smoke inhalation due to a house fire. Other significant conditions contributing to the death were carbon monoxide toxicity and thermal injuries. The state fire marshal confirmed that the fire was incendiary fire,” the report states.

Local and state agencies are continuing to work to find the person or people responsible for setting the blaze at the Pater Avenue home. A $25,000 reward is being offered for information that helps solve the case.

Last month the Journal-News obtained a copy of the initial Hamilton fire report from the residence of Lester and Bertha Parker, 1310 Pater Ave., during the early morning hours.

The 13-page report that does not include the narrative of the fire scene, shed little new light on the night Wolterman died. Hamilton Fire Chief Steve Dawson said the narrative is part of the ongoing investigative file and would not be released.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office has refused to release reports from the Pater Avenue fire because it is an ongoing investigation, according to spokesman William Krugh.

Wolterman, who had only been with the Hamilton Fire Department since April, was on the first floor of the home fighting the fire when the floor collapsed and he fell into the basement. Wolterman was “handling a charged hose line” when he fell, according to the Hamilton fire report. His injuries happened at 1:25 a.m., 14 minutes after a police officer responding to an alarm found heavy smoke showing from three sides of the two-story house.

Anyone with information on the Pater Avenue fire is asked to contact Hamilton police detectives at 513-868-5811 ext. 2002, or Crime Stoppers at 513-352-3040.

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