Call for answers over why mother went missing and died in Californian hospital - and wasn't found for two weeks (From The Northern Echo)
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Call for answers over why mother went missing and died in Californian hospital - and wasn't found for two weeks
7:50pm Thursday 10th October 2013 in News
NORTH-EAST relatives of a County Durham woman who was found dead in a stairwell of an American hospital more than two weeks after going missing have spoken of their heartbreak.
Lynne Spalding, originally from Peterlee, disappeared from her room at San Francisco General Hospital on September 21. She was being treated for a urinary tract infection.
The 57-year-old, who had lived in the United States for 23 years, was last seen in bed at 10.15am that day by a nurse. Fifteen minutes later she was gone.
Despite a search of the hospital by staff and the sheriff's department, her body was not found until an engineer carried out a routine check on the stairwell 17 days later.
Her friends and realtives had spent days scouring the streets of the Californian city with flyers and also set up a Facebook page.
The authorities have now launched an investigation into how she got on to the outside stairwell, what caused her death and why the search did not locate her sooner.
Friends and family on both sides of the Atlantic have given their reaction to the tragedy on the Facebook page, called Find Lynne.
Her cousin Helen Sutherland, of Hetton-le-Hole, wrote: “Our poor poor Lynne. Absolutely gutted - my thoughts are with her kids and all our family here in England - so so sad xx"
David Perry, a friend of the mother-of-two who is acting as family spokesman, said they were stunned and enduring a nightmare.
Mr Perry said:''Lynne Spalding died alone, in the stairwell, at one of the finest medical institutions in this country.
''I hear that the San Francisco Sheriff's Department initiated a search. Well, evidently it wasn't a very good one. I think there are a lot of questions to be asked.
''We are grieving, but that grief is leading to an absolute sense that we must find out the truth, not only for Lynne, but to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.''
He added that the marketing and sales expert was “ the very best of England and the United States combined," and had retained her British accent, which was "thick enough to peel the paint off a ship".
He added: ''Her loss will be felt greatly, not only in her family but across San Francisco because everyone knew Lynne Spalding here.''
Todd May, the San Francisco General Hospital chief medical officer, said: ''What happened at our hospital is horrible. This has shaken us to our core. Our staff is devastated.''
Ms Spalding arrived at the hospital thin and frail with her children worried about her condition. Some reports suggested her family believed she may have been given medication which left her disorientated.
She had been treated for two days before she vanished.
Assistant sheriff Paul Miyamoto said: ''All of us are committed to learning what happened and ensuring it never happens again.''
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