Last Sunday, the Sylva Police Department in Jackson County responded to the Jackson Plaza off Highway 441 due to an apparent suicide.
Following an investigation, primary investigator Detective Daniel Peoples, with the assistance of NC SBI agents Shannon Ashe and Lee Tritt, was able to determine that Claude Bolton, 19, of Sylva, had apparently committed suicide by inhaling toxic chemicals.
The vehicle was parked in the Jackson Plaza with notes posted on the side of the vehicle to inform passers-by of the toxic material. "The vehicle was well marked with signs and we also are very appreciative of that. If the vehicle had not been marked and someone had opened the door they would have died in less than five minutes," said Sylva Police Chief Davis Woodard.
The warning sign on the vehicle said, "Danger, do not approach. Hydrogen sulfide in vehicle. Contact authorities immediately but do not approach car or open door. Do so and risk immediate death by poison gas."
The note also featured a message to those coming to his aid, "I am sorry for inconveniencing the emergency responders for the second time. I have deep respect for your duties to society," read the note.
Due to the hazardous nature of the incident, the businesses located within Jackson Plaza were evacuated. The chemicals used in the incident were a hydrogen sulfide gas concoction.
The Sylva Police Department was assisted by the State Bureau of Investigation, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, N.C. Highway Patrol, Sylva Fire Department, MedWest EMS and the N.C. Hazardous Material Regional Response team.
The investigation is ongoing, and the Jackson Plaza is no longer considered hazardous.