Obese man spent final months in recliner

COLUMBIA --- When an ambulance brought Tillmon Webb home from the hospital after he hurt his knee in March, paramedics warned the then 550-pound man he probably wouldn't be able to get up from his recliner if they put him there, his wife said.

Mr. Webb told them to leave him there anyway. He would sit in that recliner, slowly dying, for the next eight months. Finally, paramedics were called back to his Greenwood home Wednesday, because he was in a lot of pain.

Mr. Webb's body was physically stuck to the power recliner and firefighters had to cut him from the chair to take him to the hospital. He died a few hours later, his body covered with sores and a "very bad odor," according to a police report.

Mr. Webb, 33, didn't ask for help for all those months, because he was ashamed and didn't have health insurance, his wife, Ada, said. He slept and used the bathroom in his chair, and she cleaned it every day. The former preacher would post sermons online from the chair, and it wasn't long before he decided he was ready to go home to the Lord, she said.

"After he sat there in that one spot for a week, he was embarrassed. It was like he already knew what was going to happen," Mrs. Webb said.

Mr. Webb's mother was the one who placed the final call to paramedics. Not only did crews have to cut apart the chair, but they had to cut a hole in the wall of the couple's mobile home about 70 miles west of Columbia to get him out. A police report said he weighed about 800 pounds, but his wife said he was closer to 500 pounds.

The hospital told Mr. Webb's wife he died from a heart attack, she said. The coroner's office isn't investigating the death and referred all questions to Greenwood County deputies.

OBESITY CRISIS

ATLANTA --- The first county-by-county survey of obesity reflects past studies that show the rate of obesity is highest in the Southeast and Appalachia. High rates of obesity and diabetes were reported in more than 80 percent of counties in the Appalachian region that includes Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, according to the new research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The same problem was seen in about 75 percent of counties in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina.

The statistics are estimates for the year 2007 -- based on surveys, census figures and other information.