Smoky Mountain Opry Theater mourns death of employee hospitalized in CO2 leak
The CEO of the theater said co-worker Josh Ellis died after clinging to life following a gas leak in the Smoky Mountain Opry.
PIGEON FORGE (WBIR) - One of the two Smoky Mountain Opry Theater technicians hospitalized following a gas leak last weekend has died.
Smoky Mountain Opry CEO David Fee sent his condolences to the family of Josh Ellis, a technician that had been in critical care this past week following a CO2 leak that occurred after a performance last Saturday.
"We are all heartbroken by the tragic loss of our friend and co-worker, Josh Ellis," Fee said. "Our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends and fellow employees during this difficult time."
The theater said it is canceling all shows until March 16 out of respect for Ellis and his family.
The theater had to be evacuated after CO2 began leaking from a stage operating machine used to create fog and effects for shows three minutes after a performance. General Manager Michael Hadla said three technicians were found unconscious and had to be rushed to UT Medical Center, where Ellis had been in critical care all week.
"He was a wonderful employee and we shall miss him greatly. For all of us this is devastating news. We ask for your prayers and support during this time," Fee said.
The other two workers were released from the hospital.
Authorities said they checked and cleared the entire building Saturday night, and while shows on Sunday went on as scheduled, Headla says they'll be gathering more information to make sure a leak like this never happens again.
The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an investigation into what caused a gas leak to evacuate the Smoky Mountain Opry.
Witnesses at the Smoky Mountain Opry Saturday night said they heard a beeping during the performance. The lights also came on during the performance when audience members were being ushered out of the auditorium. One witness also mentioned she saw stage crews still had on their performance costumes as they were exiting the building.
Eric Hutto was also at the Smoky Mountain Opry Saturday evening and was able to get video of people evacuating the building.
Read more at WBIR's website.