(WBIR-Cocke County) Imagine being trapped in a house stockpiled with trash, feces, and bugs for three years. That was the life of a mentally and physically challenged woman in Cocke County, until emergency responders rescued her from the home.
Sunday, crews were called out to Old Sevierville Highway, near Newport. Firefighters had to cut a 4' by 8' hole in the home to get inside and pull her out.
The victim, 48-year-old Katrina Gann, was being cared for by her mother, who has been charged. Deputies arrested 71-year-old Gail Gann while she was visiting her daughter in the hospital Wednesday for physical abuse or gross neglect of an impaired adult.
"There was garbage piled in the home above waste high every square inch of the floor," said Deputy Michael Whitmer, with Cocke County Sheriff's Department. "There were cockroaches and spiders on everything and an extreme smell of ammonia from urine."
Whitmer said spoiled food, dog feces, and soiled adult diapers were in the mess.
"I don't think anyone should live like that. A dog should even be allowed to live in a squallier," said Linda Bible, who lives nearby.
Bible said from the outside, it was obvious the home needed serious work. Overgrown weeds stood taller than the home, two rusted cars were parked where the driveway used to be, and furniture could be spotted across the yard.
"It just breaks my heart that she's in the condition that she's in. And I'm so glad that somebody has called and reported it. And that she's in better shape than what she's been in," said Bible.
Deputies said Katrina Vann's bed was conformed to her body and was stained with bodily fluids. Firefighters said she was covered in bloody sores.
"When they got there and saw how much hoarding, trash, whatever you want to call it, was there, they were shocked," said David Cody, Emergency Services Coordinator with the Cocke County Fire Department.
Firefighters said it was hard enough to get Gann out of the house, but if there had been an emergency, a rescue would have been unlikely due to the conditions.
"The problem is finding someone. You're falling all over different stuff, and some of it, they were saying, was 3 or 4 feet high, and so it kind of makes it like a maze," said Cody.
Cody said the piles of trash could have potentially added fuel to the fire if flames ever sparked in the home.
"It's going to cause everything to go up a lot faster," said Cody. "You also have to look at what they may be hoarding. It could be toxic materials, oxygen bottles, you never know."
Gann is being cared for by Adult Protective Services.
Deputies said the home is not structurally safe due to the hole crews cut. Gail Gann was told if she entered the home, the Cocke County Sheriff's Department was not liable.