CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
STEPHENVILLE — Erath County authorities are investigating the death of a college student from Llano who might have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Jacey Smathers, 22, who was a Tarleton State University student, was found unresponsive on a bed at about 12:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at a house in the 3800 block of U.S. 67, just outside of Stephenville.
Erath County deputies went to the house after receiving a call from a schoolmate who found Smathers, according to Chief Deputy Heath Crossland.
“When deputies got inside the house, they could smell gas,” Crossland said. “Based on the outward investigation, it appears to be carbon monoxide poisoning.
“(There were) no obvious signs of foul play,” he added.
The house, which was located in a rural area of the county, was equipped with an external propane tank.
“There were gas appliances in the home,” Crossland said. “(The propane tank) appeared to power the water heater and furnace.”
After firefighters arrived, carbon monoxide levels had dissipated; however, investigators found other clues that appeared to confirm their carbon monoxide suspicion.
“Based off the animals and the situation in which we found her, we suspect it could be carbon monoxide poisoning, but we’re waiting on a medical examiner’s report,” Crossland said. “We’re unsure if there was a leak or what could have caused the carbon monoxide (level). We did not locate a carbon monoxide detector within the home.”
Two dogs in the house — one of which was unresponsive and the other exhibiting a slow response time — were taken to a local veterinarian.
Information about the animals’ condition is pending.
Smathers’ body was taken to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.
In Llano, Smathers was known for her love of horses and equine sporting events. She was active in 4-H and junior livestock shows.
She was pursing a degree in nursing at Tarleton State University.
A funeral service is 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Llano High School auditorium, 2509 Texas 16 in Llano. Visitation is 4-6 p.m. Feb. 4 at Waldrope-Hatfield-Hawthorne Funeral Home, 307 E. Sandstone in Llano.
CLICK HERE TO READ HER OBITUARY
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Jacey Smathers Memorial Scholarship Fund-Tarleton State University, Box T-0260, Stephenville, TX 76402.