Family seeks answers in death of Bryant graduate

By: 
Josh Briggs
Managing Editor

A Saline County family is searching for answers as to what caused the death of a 26-year-old Bryant graduate and North Little Rock firefighter.

Jonathon Elias Staton was “healthy as could be,” said his wife, Allie Staton, who awakened Sunday to find him lifeless in the couple’s bathroom.

“Not a clue. They found nothing in the autopsy,” Allie said. “They are doing a toxicology and other labs, but it could be a few weeks before we get those results back. There are just no answers.”

Allie added that Eli had been at a friend’s house Saturday, discussing work business and returned home late — after she had gone to bed.

“I remember him getting into bed and at some point between then and his alarms going off at 4:45 a.m. he went to the bathroom,” Allie said.

She added that she believes she heard Eli fall, but she did not know at the time that is what caused the noise.

“We had actually just bought a new shower head and he had installed it that day,” Allie said. “It was one of those that you pull off and he made a big deal about putting it in our bathroom. I just assumed it was him getting into the shower and was pulling that shower head off so I went back to sleep.”

But around 4:45 a.m., Allie said alarms continued to go off — which was normal due to Eli usually setting “about 20 alarms” to make sure he gets up for work.

“It woke me up and I reached over to turn them off and realized I didn’t hear him getting ready,” she said. “The door was open to our bathroom and the light was on, which was unusual, because if he is in the bathroom he shuts the door not to wake me up.
“I tried to listen to see if I could hear him, but I didn’t hear anything.”

Allie said that is when she walked into the bathroom and saw him.

“We just don’t know what happened,” she said.

Allie added that she believes Eli was unconscious when he fell due to his position.

“He didn’t try to catch himself,” she said. “He didn’t try to get up.”

Eli graduated from Bryant High School in 2009 and immediately wanted to become a firefighter, according to Allie.

“He was the fire marshal in his middle school class,” Allie said with a laugh. “He had a giving heart and loved everything about becoming a firefighter.”

Eli served as a volunteer firefighter near Hensley while in high school.
She said that he attended the fire academy at 18 and was hired by the Stuttgart Fire Department, which is one of the only stations in Central Arkansas that will hire an 18-year-old, Allie said.
In 2013, he tested with Bryant and North Little Rock before settling on NLRFD as a full-time employer.

“He wouldn’t have given that up for anything,” Allie said. “He found so much joy in doing that (job) and being there for other people.”

Eli and Allie married in August 2014, a week before Allie began her studies in pharmacy school.
Despite his death, Eli will continue to help people as an organ donor.

Allie said doctors were able to use a large portion of Eli’s body, including bones from his legs, skin, shoulder blades, heart valves and corneas. She added that more than 150 people will benefit from the donations.
Allie added that Eli’s main organs, such as his heart, liver and kidneys, were not salvageable due to lack of oxygen.

“I wish he could have donated his kidneys and his heart for transplant patients, but anything that he could have given I know he would have wanted it to go to research or to as many people as he could,” she said.

Eli is survived by his wife; his parents, Jon and Michelle Staton; a sister, Abby; a brother, Luke; and his grandparents, Pat Staton-Matlock and Bill and Sue James.
Visitation will be held from 6 from 8 p.m. today at East Union Missionary Baptist Church, located at 20422 North Springlake Rd., in Hensley.

A celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Eli’s name to the Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Association at www.arfallenfirefighters.org.

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