The co-owner of a popular East Nashville restaurant was found dead Monday inside the restaurant's cooler, according to police.
Jay Luther, 47, the chef and co-owner of Germantown Cafe East, located at 501 Main St., was found dead after investigators said he apparently became locked in the cooler over the weekend.
The restaurant had closed Friday night due to a planned weekend power outage at the 5th & Main building that houses the restaurant and several condominiums. Due to the outage, the restaurant was using dry ice in the cooler to keep the food from spoiling.
Luther visited the restaurant Sunday evening to check on the cooler when the cooler door closed behind him. A release mechanism inside the cooler was not properly working and Luther became locked inside, police said.
Metro police said a robbery alarm from inside the cooler was activated later Sunday night, and officers responded to the call. When they arrived at the restaurant, they found the building dark and all doors were secure so they left without forcing entry into the restaurant.
The medical examiner said Tuesday that Luther died from accidental suffocation by carbon dioxide inhalation and said Luther would have been overcome by carbon dioxide within just a few minutes of entering the cooler.
Dry ice dissipates into carbon dioxide gas, not water, and carbon dioxide vapor can displace oxygen in confined spaces.
Metro police said Chief Steve Anderson has ordered a review of the officers' response to the alarm call Sunday.
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