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Carbon monoxide suspected in Newman’s death

JAMESTOWN — An accidental carbon monoxide poisoning killed Harold Newman, the founder of the sign company here that bears his name, police say.

The 80-year-old accidentally left his car running in his Jamestown home’s attached garage before he went to bed Feb. 19, said Sgt. Thomas Nagel, a Jamestown police detective. He was found the next day in his bed, having apparently succumbed to the carbon monoxide that built up as he slept, Nagel said.

“We could still smell the gas fumes,” Nagel said. 

Police were responding to a call made after Newman failed to show up for a dentist appointment earlier in the day, Nagel said.

Officers determined that Newman accidentally left the car running before going into his home the night before. The door from the garage to the home was closed, and Newman left no note or anything else to indicate the act was deliberate, Nagel said.

“In our carbon monoxide readings, it was quite high when we were there,” he said.

Some family members had arrived at the home by the time police arrived, he said. Newman lived in the home alone, Nagel said.

Newman appeared to have been in good health, but may have been suffering some memory lapses at the time, given his age, Nagel said.

“It’s sad,” he said. “He was a very good man. He was a very good part of the community.”

“Very sad,” his daughter, Kari Newman Ness, said Friday. “As people get older, these things happen.”

Newman’s body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Bismarck, which found the preliminary cause of death to be an accident, police said. Nagel said the final results of the medical examiner’s autopsy are expected to take another six weeks or so.

Newman Ness in 2008 became CEO of Newman Signs, the company her father started nearly 60 years ago in his mother-in-law’s garage. It’s since grown into one of the largest sign companies in the U.S., making billboards, traffic signs and banners, among other products.

A longtime community booster in Jamestown, Harold Newman’s name also graces Newman Outdoor Field, home to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and the North Dakota State University baseball team.

“It’s been a month and we’re still missing him,” Newman Ness said.