Kids sedated before fatal Salt Lake County fire
By Pat Reavy
Deseret Morning News
Published: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2007 12:20 a.m. MST
Toxicology tests show three children who died in a house fire in Kearns had two prescription drugs that can be used as sedatives in their bodies.
Sharon Al-Shimmary, 40, and her children, Ashley, 9; Christopher,7; and Heather, 2, died in a fire inside their house near 5700 South and 5500 West Oct. 28. Salt Lake County sheriff's investigators said Al-Shimmary was responsible for killing her children before taking her own life.
A fire was lit on the floor in the bedroom where all the family members' bodies were found. Sharon and Heather were found on a bed, the other two children on the floor, according to investigators. All the windows were shut and the bedroom door was locked from the inside.
The Utah State Medical Examiner determined Sharon and her two oldest children died from smoke inhalation. The mother also suffered multiple self-inflicted stab wounds.
Monday, the sheriff's office said recently completed toxicology tests showed the children had Trazodone, a prescription medication used commonly to treat depression or insomnia, and another prescription drug, Celexa, an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drug, in their systems. Sharon Al-Shimmary had prescriptions for both drugs.
One question investigators have had since the tragedy is why the children didn't run out after smoke began filling the room.
"The presence of those drugs could account for the fact (the children) were incapacitated to the point that they didn't leave the room," said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Paul Jaroscak. "It may have left them incapacitated to rouse themselves and leave the room as it was burning."
Investigators have yet to release a cause of death on Heather Al-Shimmary. They say the drugs were also found in the toddler's system. But additional tests are now being conducted to determined the quantity of drugs in her body and whether they played a role in her death. Trazodone was found in Ashley's body and Celexa in Christopher's body, but because smoke inhalation was determined to be their cause of death, tests to determine the quantity of drugs in their bodies would not be conducted.
Family members say Sharon Al-Shimmary was battling depression and had been going through a drawn-out divorce from her estranged husband. A suicide note that was several pages long was found in the house after the fire.