AUGUSTA, Georgia — A veteran Georgia cop was killed after inhaling liquid nitrogen fumes while trying to save the life of an employee of a sperm bank, authorities said.
Richmond County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Meagher, 57, responded to Xytex Corp. in Augusta on Sunday afternoon to help the employee who had been sickened by the fumes, when he became overwhelmed, police said.
Three other officers were also stricken by the fumes but were able to get out of the laboratory facility and later recovered, officials said. Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze sperm at the bank.
Meagher and the female employee were later pulled out by firefighters, but Meagher had succumbed to the gas and was pronounced dead. The woman was hospitalized and is expected to live.
Xytex Corp. said the incident appeared to have been triggered by a surge in pressure in the liquid nitrogen supply to the facility, but that none of the storage containers had been affected. The firm offered condolences to the deputy’s family and said they were cooperating with authorities.
Meagher had been a sheriff’s deputy for 33 years and had a distinguished career marked by stints as a drug investigator. In 2004, he was shot in the face during a drug sting, but survived and later returned to work, the Augusta Chronicle reported.