Mass. Janitor Killed, Responders Overcome by Fumes

July 08--Authorities are investigating whether yesterday's death of a 53-year-old Plymouth school custodian was caused by the same chemical exposure that apparently sickened 11 people.

Chester Flattery of Plymouth was discovered shortly after 8 a.m. by a Manomet Elementary School secretary, said schools Superintendent Gary Maestas.

Flattery had been on the job, cleaning floors, for only an hour when his body was found, Maestas said at a press conference.

"He was a loving husband and a wonderful father," Flattery's wife, Linda, said.

Plymouth Police Chief Michael Botieri told reporters that officers and other emergency workers who responded to a report of an unresponsive man at the school became ill.

"Some of them had headaches, and there was some type of an odor in there," Botieri said.

In all, three firefighters, three police officers, two state troopers, two paramedics and one school employee were transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth for evaluation due to symptoms of possible chemical exposure, authorities said.

The building was evacuated, and the State Hazardous Materials Team from the office of the state fire marshal responded to the scene. The building remained closed for the rest of the day as the team tried to identify the chemical agent.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of Flattery's death.

"Whether (the) death is connected to work being done or not is unknown, as levels of chemicals in the building are very low," Jennifer Mieth, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Fire Services, said. "Additional analysis (is) being conducted."

Bonnie Brown, whose 6-year-old granddaughter just finished kindergarten at the school, said she was stunned.

"I couldn't believe it," Brown said. "I can't even imagine what they could be using in schools, other than cleaning products."

O'Ryan Johnson contributed to this report.

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