Woman Dies of Apparent Smoke Inhalation at Local Motel

Jan 16th, 2014 | By admin | Category: News and Features

BY LEE “CAT” McLANE

Editor/Publisher

A woman staying at a local motel died of apparent smoke inhalation Tuesday, January 7th.  Kimberly Copeland, 44, of Ward, was found dead by police around 1:52 p.m. in her motel room in Beebe. The power had been off for several hours at the motel - as it was in many businesses and homes  that day. Cpt. Eddie Cullum of the Beebe Police said that it appeared that Ms. Copeland had been dead for several hours at the time they found her. He said that the motel manager had been trying to reach her and when he couldn’t, he called the police.

When the police entered the room, there had been a fire on a portion of the bed and blankets were at the foot of the bed on the floor in a pile of ashes. Lamp shades were melted as were other plastic pieces in the room. Ms. Copeland was found in the bathtub in the bathroom with the door closed.

Cigarettes were found next to the bed on the nightstand. It is believed that Ms. Copeland perhaps fell asleep while smoking and then awoke with the bed on fire and the room filled with smoke. Likely disoriented, she went into the bathroom rather than out the exit door of the motel room. She apparently died of smoke inhalation as she huddled in the bathtub.

The fire burned itself out as the oxygen decreased before incinerating the entire room, according to the police. The smoke alarm appeared to be in working order but there were no guests in adjoining rooms that might have heard the alarm. “We don’t have the autopsy results yet,” Cpt. Cullum said, “but we believe there was no foul play. It seems to be just a horrible accident.”   The investigation is still open.