SAN FRANCISCO — Investigators looking into the death of a woman found in a stairwell at San Francisco General Hospital are looking into reports that an orderly told hospital authorities that he saw an unconscious woman there a week before her body was found.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/1bIEGn7) that it's still unclear why the Sheriff's Department did not locate the woman after hospital authorities reported the worker's finding.
Lynne Spalding, 57, disappeared from her room Sept. 21, two days after she was admitted for an infection. Her body was found Oct. 8 in the locked stairwell.
The cause of her death has not been determined, but authorities do not suspect foul play. Investigators believe she had been dead for several days when her body was discovered.
"We the family, until we get an official report, there is nothing more we can do but wait. It's all horrifying," David Perry, a spokesman for the family, said Friday. "If this story could get any more horrifying, it just did."
According to the newspaper, the orderly told a nurse on Oct. 1 that he had seen a woman, apparently passed out, in the stairwell. The orderly said he had stepped over the prone woman twice, once going downstairs and again when he returned to the door that he had used to enter the stairwell.
The nurse contacted the Sheriff's Department, which provides security at San Francisco General. Police have not been able to determine how the department responded, the newspaper said. It's possible no deputy responded, or that the deputy was dispatched to the wrong location.
It unclear whether the woman was still alive when the orderly found her. There was nothing in the nurse's call to the Sheriff's Department that indicated the woman might have been dead, sources told the newspaper.
Spalding's family reported her missing on the day she vanished fearing medications might have confused her.
Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com