Edgewood, NM – By Jeremy Pawloski, Journal Staff Writer
An Edgewood father and his 13-year-old son were found dead Sunday of suspected carbon-monoxide poisoning in a shed at the Bonanza Creek Ranch of N.M. 14.
Ronald Lewis, 47, and his son, Zachary Lewis, 13, were found around 7:30 p.m. Sunday night.
They were discovered in what a sheriff’s department major called a “security shed,” used by production employees of a TNT television miniseries that is filming at the ranch.
Ronald Lewis had worked as a security guard for the production of “Into the West,” a miniseries being produced in association with Dreamworks Television and executive producer Steven Spielberg.
A family member said Zachary had joined his father Saturday night to help clean up at the production site.
Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Major Ron Madrid said that the father and son were found by another security guard who worked outside all day Sunday and was waiting for Ronald Lewis to relieve him.
Ronald Lewis had worked the graveyard shift at the ranch on Saturday, Madrid said, and his Sunday morning replacement was waiting for Lewis to relieve him on Sunday night and became concerned when he didn’t show.
Lewis’ replacement had not thought to look for Lewis in the shed but did after his boss asked him to look for Lewis’ truck and he realized that it was parked at the facility, Madrid said.
“That’s when they looked inside the shed and found them,” around 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Madrid said.
Madrid said Monday that a propane heater was found in the security shed, and there was no reason to believe that the cause of death for the father and son was anything other carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, potentially-deadly gas that is a byproduct of combustion.
Madrid said late Monday that preliminary autopsy reports on the two support carbon monoxide poisoning as a potential cause of death.
Brandee Brooks, a unit publicist for “Into the West” who works for TNT in Atlanta, confirmed Monday that Ronald Lewis worked for the production.
“It goes without saying that everyone in production is really saddened by this,” she said. “It’s tragic.”
“Into the West” is scheduled to wrap its Santa Fe production on May 1, Brooks said. She added that she does not know if Sunday’s tragedy will affect the production schedule.
Family members of the Lewises e-mailed a message to the Journal on Monday evening.
Zach “loved to skateboard and spend time with friends. Everyone liked Zach, he was so friendly and had a happy outlook.
“He tried hard in school and did well, but it was not the most important thing in his life. Friends and family and fun were first. He could be pretty daring with his skateboard and was very talented. He was a math whiz and could do all kinds of problems in his head. His favorite color was red. Words that signified him are vibrant, thoughtful, caring and sensitive.”
Ron, “was always happy to go out of his way to help anyone in any way that he could. He loved camping and the outdoors. (He) liked horseback riding. Loved his grandson Auron and was going to build him a table for the train set he got him for his birthday. (He) had a very Old Western look with his cowboy hat and long, red beard. Words to signify him are, “giving, selfless, caring and happy-go-lucky.”
“Both will be missed more than words can express,” ends the e-mail.
Bonanza Creek Ranch is located off N.M. 14 a few miles before the turnoff to the Santa Fe County jail, Madrid said.