Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photoMIKE KOOZMIN/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO

Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photoMIKE KOOZMIN/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO

Coroner ties alcoholism to SF General Hospital stairway death

A woman found dead in a locked stairwell 17 days after going missing from her room at San Francisco General Hospital probably died of a chemical imbalance due to complications from chronic alcohol abuse, the city medical examiner's office said Friday.

San Francisco Assistant Medical Examiner Ellen Moffat said in a new report that 57-year-old Lynne Spalding had been dead for days before she was found on Oct. 8.

The medical examiner's office says Spalding was confused and delirious on Sept. 21, the day she disappeared.

Moffat notes Spalding didn't know the day or time or even why she was in the hospital.

Several employees with the city sheriff's department, which provides hospital security, were reassigned after Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi acknowledged that a thorough search was never conducted for Spalding.

Although sheriff's deputies at the hospital did a “perimeter search” of San Francisco General's 24-acre campus within an hour of Spalding's disappearance, it was not until Sept. 30 that they attempted a more extensive search of the grounds, Mirkarimi said.

A request for a broader search came at a meeting a sheriff's supervisor had with hospital staff members who included representatives of the “risk management” department, he said.

The next day, after it became clear that not all the stairwells used as fire exits had been searched, a supervisor ordered the stairwell searches to continue, yet “only about half the stairwells” ever were, he said.

Then, on Oct. 4, a hospital staff member told the sheriff's department that someone had reported seeing a body in a locked stairwell of the building where Spalding had been a patient. A sheriff's dispatcher told hospital officials the department would respond, but “there is no indication that any one was dispatched to that stairwell.”

Bay Area News

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

From left, California state Sen. Milton Marks, Sen. Nicholas Petris, Assemblyman John Knox and activists Claire Dedrick, Sylvia McLaughlin and Janet Adams watch Gov. Ronald Reagan sign the bill establishing the Bay Conservation and Development Commission as a permanent agency in 1969. (Courtesy Save The Bay)
Sixty years of Saving San Francisco Bay

Pioneering environmental group was started by three ladies on a mission

Temporary high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be added to sections of state Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101, including Park Presidio Boulevard, to keep traffic flowing as The City reopens. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes coming to some of The City’s busiest streets

Changes intended to improve transit reliability as traffic increases with reopening

Tents filled up a safe camping site in a former parking lot at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin in June 2020.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Proposal for major expansion of safe sleeping sites gets cool reception in committee

Supervisor Mandelman calls for creation of more temporary shelter sites to get homeless off streets

A surplus of	mice on the Farallon Islands have caused banded burrowing owls to stay year round instead of migrating, longtime researchers say. <ins>(Courtesy Point Blue Conservation Science)</ins>
Farallon Islands researchers recommend eradicating mice

The Farallon Islands comprise three groups of small islands located nearly 30… Continue reading

Once we can come and go more freely, will people gather the way they did before COVID? <ins>(Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner file photo)</ins>
What happens when the pandemic is over?

After experiencing initial excitement, I wonder just how much I’ll go out

Most Read