A Chicago woman was found dead in a toilet at a high-priced health club, and her family wants to know why it took two days for anyone to discover her.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Patricia Austin, 78, was pronounced dead after being found unresponsive in a bathroom stall at Life Time Fitness in Burr Ridge on July 14. Further investigation found that she had arrived at the gym two days before on July 12: Surveillance footage reportedly shows her entering the gym on that day, but there is no record of her leaving. Her car remained in the parking lot, and July 12 was the last day she used her membership card for entry.
Austin was only discovered after an observant gym member noticed her feet under the door of a handicapped stall before her workout, and again when she finished exercising. The woman reportedly alerted staff members that someone may need help, and that’s when they discovered her unresponsive.
Gym employees reportedly administered CPR while waiting for the paramedics to arrive, but Austin was pronounced dead at the scene. A medical examination ruled her cause of death as atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease.
The deceased woman’s son Terrence Austin described to the Chicago Tribune the harrowing experience of being called to the gym on July 14 due to an “incident.” When he arrived, he reportedly saw his mother’s dead body in the bathroom stall and said that her feet and arms were purple.
Austin also told the newspaper that a funeral director told him that his mother had likely been dead for at least a day. He now wants to know why no one at the gym noticed her in the two days she was likely in that stall. The gym closes between the hours of 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. daily.
“We have so many unanswered questions right now. We don’t know how something like this could happen,” Austin said in a news conference Wednesday.
“It’s frustrating … stressful. We just don’t have the answers that we need.”
Austin has filed a court petition asking for additional records from the gym during those two days to help understand how his mother went undiscovered and unaided for so long.
Jason Thunstrom, a spokesman for Life Time Fitness, released a statement addressing the incident.
“As a large facility with several thousand members visiting daily, it is not uncommon for bathroom stalls to be occupied as staff conducts their cleaning protocol. Out of respect for members, cleaning staff do not disturb individuals in occupied stalls. Moreover, cleaning staff rotates throughout the course of the day with responsibility for cleaning varying as shift changes occur.
“We are terribly saddened by this tragedy and continue to have our heartfelt thoughts and prayers with the family.”
Feature photo: PR Newswire