Local News

Fiancée: DMV trainee died of heat stroke

Posted July 29, 2010 11:05 a.m. EDT
Updated July 29, 2010 11:46 p.m. EDT

— A man training for a position with the state Division of Motor Vehicles died of complications from heat stroke Wednesday, a day after he collapsed, according to his fiancée and family members.

Timothy Charles Barnes, 38, of Rocky Mount, was training to be an inspector in the DMV's License and Theft Bureau at the North Carolina Justice Academy southeast of Asheville.

He collapsed Tuesday after physical training at the Edneyville facility, the DMV said in a statement released Thursday.

Barnes was among 13 recruits who were doing a strength and endurance test, which included sprinting, push ups, sit ups and a 1.5 mile run, said DMV spokeswoman Marge Howell. The test was done in intervals with water breaks in between, she said.

Barnes was taken to Mission Hospital in Asheville where he died. His fiancée, Vernadette Garland, said the medical examiner told the family that he suffered heat stroke, which led to kidney failure and cardiac arrest.

Garland said she saw him at the hospital and that he was able to talk with her shortly before his condition rapidly deteriorated.

"He said he was having some physical pain. He was hurting," she said."I felt like there was something serious, not deathly serious."

Barnes' father, Charlie Barnes, said he does not blame anyone for his son's death, but he does want to make sure that trainees' conditions are monitored.

"The only question I would have is: 'He didn't show any signs of exhaustion or weakening?'" Charlie Barnes said.

The DMV reviewed the bureau's training requirements and regimen and determined that the staff followed all protocol, Howell said, noting that it is the same test given to law enforcement officers. The heat index on Tuesday was 82 degrees, she added.

Barnes worked for 10 years as a sheriff's deputy in Nash County and was also a school resource office there before joining the License and Theft Bureau on May 17. He had completed a nine-week basic training program on Wednesday and was supposed to graduate the same day.

"He was a good man and, like I said before, I'm going to miss him, and I know his fellow officers are going to miss him," said Nash County Sheriff Dick Jenkins.