CHICAGO (CBS) — A 78-year-old woman was found dead two days after she entered a health club in west suburban Burr Ridge, and the family wants answers.
Patricia Austin went to the Life Time Fitness Club in Burr Ridge on July 12. The body of the 78-year-old woman from Chicago’s Garfield Ridge neighborhood was found at about 7 p.m. on July 14, by another member in a restroom stall. The woman noticed after her workout that the same woman appeared to have been in the same stall for about two hours and notified an employee, according to Burr Ridge Deputy Police Chief Marc Loftus.
The employee went into the restroom, received no response from the patron, and went underneath the stall and found Patricia Austin, Loftus said.
Employees began performing CPR on Austin, who was unresponsive, Loftus said. Paramedics arrived and pronounced her dead at the scene. The last time Austin checked in to the health club was about 48 hours before she was found, about 7 p.m. July 12, Loftus said.
An autopsy by the Cook County medical examiner’s office found she died of heart disease, and her death was ruled natural.
Family attorney Mark Novak shared with CBS 2 pictures of the bathroom where it happened and the defibrillator used. First responders failed to save Austin from a fatal heart-related death and Novak believes they could have been days late.
“It appeared that Patricia’s body may have been in the bathroom stall for two days,” he said.
Attorneys representing Austin’s family filed a petition for discovery Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court, seeking the club’s maintenance records, surveillance videos, operations manual, inspection log of the ladies’ locker room and other materials.
“When you lock up the front door and you see your member’s car sitting right by the entrance, I would think that it would occur to me – ‘hey we missed somebody,'” Novak said.
The family asks how no one noticed her or her car parked in the same spot outside.
Lifetime Fitness said while the club closes three hours a day, staff is there 24-7. As a result there is no final walk through to clean and check places like the bathrooms.
In a statement, the club said, ““We are terribly saddened by this tragedy and continue to have our heartfelt thoughts and prayers with the family.
“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…[and]staff rotates throughout the course of the day.”
“We can not make that claim, that hey had they done something her life could have been saved, but on the other hand that is one of the questions we are looking for an answer to,” Novak said.
No lawsuit has been filed, but the family filed documents to get information to better understand what happened.