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A 77-year-old grandmother from Denver, Colo. was found dead in a gym steam room, not by an employee of the business but by a fellow gym member.

An autopsy revealed that Akiko Belich, who was an avid hiker, was in the steam room for 12 to 17 hours following her death, a fact that has her grieving family considering a lawsuit.

KDVR reported that Belich arrived at the gym around 1 p.m. on March 29, went into the sauna and passed out from the heat. The coroner determined that Belich’s death was accidental and the cause was kidney failure brought about by dehydration.

The New York Daily News reported that “gym staffers [at 24 Hour Fitness] are supposed to check the locker rooms hourly during the day and once at night, [but]no one seemed to have noticed Belich’s body.”

There may not have been a routine check, the gym says, because there may not have been a female employee available to check the female locker room area.

“[24 Hour Fitness] employees do hourly ‘team cleans’ of the club, but that would not include the women’s locker room area unless a female employee was working. At the end of the night, the closing employee was supposed to walk the entire club to be sure everyone exited. That obviously was not done,” the gym said in a statement to KDVR.

It was another gym member, Sonya Wasinger, who made the sad discovery and found the elderly woman’s body at 7:45 a.m. a day later.

“I wish I could’ve gone in and found her and revived her,” Wasinger said tearfully in an interview with KDVR. “Obviously, they didn’t bother to make rounds of the facility to make sure that everybody’s alright.”

The gym has not said if disciplinary action was taken against employees.

Matt Naham About the author:
Matt Naham is the Weekend Editor  for Rare. Follow him on Twitter @matt_naham.
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