Autopsy Finds Ky. Fire Chief Died of Drugs and Alcohol

A recently released autopsy report into the death of Lake Dreamland Fire Chief John Wilkinson Jr. shows he died of drug and alcohol intoxication, not solely of cardiac disease as initially reported.

Wilkinson, 44, died in the early morning hours of April 13 at his home, just hours after responding to a brush fire the previous night.

Since his death occurred less than 24 hours following a response, it was considered an on-duty death under the Hometown Heroes Act. However, with the new information into the cause of his death, that status could be in jeopardy.

The Courier-Journal obtained the report -- which shows the chief had cocaine and alcohol in his system -- though an open record's request after the fire department received it on July 18.

Newly appointed Fire Chief Freddie George told the newspaper that fire district officials were shocked by the results from the report.

"We're choosing to look at the good things he did in life, instead of looking at the things he did that caused his death," he said.

The report also states that heart disease did play a significant role in his death.

George said the department has been gathering information about Wilkinson's medical history to submit to state and federal officials to determine if his family is eligible for death benefits.

If the Kentucky Fire Commission approves benefits, the case would be forwarded for consideration of federal PSOB benefits