TROUP, TX (KLTV) - The Smith County Justice of the Peace says he is not ruling out that an East Texas man's death is heat related. Friends say 37-year-old James Harland was working at a ranch on County Road 2138 in Troup Wednesday morning, when he said he was going inside to beat the heat. They found him later pale, unconscious, and with no pulse. It is possibly the first heat related death in East Texas this year.
"I'm still a bit rattled myself," said Jeffrey West, Harland's friend. "He's a friend of mine."
They tried to pumping his lungs with oxygen to bring him back to life, but to no avail. ETMC confirms Harland died en route to the hospital.
"We were working out here, and he just got overheated and said he had to go in," said friend Jeffrey West.
Harland was putting up a fence on his neighbor's ranch. And, even though they were working in the morning, witnesses say the heat was still overbearing. Jeffrey West went to go check on him first.
"He appeared to be sleeping," said West. "It was like he was snoring. I didn't realize he was gasping for wind."
West then went back outside to continue working on the fence. But...
"Something just told me to go check on him again," said West. "And, when I did, he was no response at all. I was stomping on the floors, hollering his name. I went next door and got our boss. I knew something was wrong."
"And, you think it was heat related," I asked friend and witness Keith Waddoups.
"I think it was heat," he replied. "When I went to check on him, [I] found him on the floor and called emergency."
"He went right to work on him with CPR and stuff, and mouth to mouth, and I was getting cold water, rags of water, dousing his face, and there was no response at all," said West.
Once he realized what was going on, West says he tried his best to wake Harland up.
"The arms, they started turning colors," said West. "When the other man gave up, I took over and color started coming back to his skin. But, there's still no response. I couldn't feel a pulse or nothing."
Harland was also a diabetic, and friends say he had a long history of health problems.
"This heat's going to kill people this year if they're not used to it," said West.
County officials say an autopsy has been ordered, and Harland's body was taken to Southeast Forensics in Tyler.