GASTON, S.C. -- A man who relied on a wheelchair to get around lost his life in a weekend house fire. Family members say he was just two feet away from the front door, and died trying to crawl to safety.
Authorities say 52-year-old Tommy Watts died in a house fire early Sunday morning on Sunny Boy Poole Road in Gaston. His family members believe a space heater is what sparked the fire.
"I thought maybe the smoke got to him before the fire did but we found out he had gotten on the floor and he crawled within two feet from the door where they found his remains. That tears me up," said Dale Frye, Watts' aunt.
Frye says Watts was born with a disability that caused him to struggle with weight gain, but was working on improving his health. She says Watts learned just week at doctor's appointment that he'd lost more than 200 pounds.
Watts was one of three children. They called him a "big boy with a big heart"
"Tommy was the backbone of the three siblings. He tried to keep the other street after he lost mom and dad," said Frye.
Autopsy results showed Watts died from smoke inhalation. The fire is being investigated by S.L.E.D. and the Lexington County Sheriff's Department.