A 61-year-old kitchen worker at an upscale downtown Atlanta hotel was found dead in a walk-in freezer in the hotel today. Carolyn Robinson, a resident of East Point, Georgia, apparently entered the freezer alone around 8 p.m. on Monday night. Her family was concerned when she did not come home after her shift ended that evening and reported her missing. Hotel staff found her body later the next morning at around 9 a.m. and notified police.
WSB-TV reports that the worker was employed as a cook at the Westin Peachtree Plaza, one of Atlanta’s most popular hotels. Investigators observed her entering the freezer in the lower level kitchen area on Monday night on surveillance video and say that there was evidence that she tried to get out. It is estimated that she was trapped inside the freezer for approximately 13 hours.
Lt. Charles Hampton of the Atlanta Police Department stated that foul play is not suspected in the woman’s death. Currently, her death is being investigated as an accident.
“We’re still combing through the video just to make sure that there’s nothing else going on. She worked in the culinary department of the hotel, so it would appear that she had a reason to be inside the freezer.”
Questions have arisen as to why Robinson did not use the exit mechanism located in the freezer for such circumstances. The mechanism’s purpose is to allow anyone inside the freezer to get out safely. No one is sure at this point, however, if the mechanism was working properly or not. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been called in to investigate.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that co-workers say that Robinson was a friendly lady whom everybody loved and who talked to everybody.
Westin staff members are working closely with investigators in an effort to try and determine exactly what happened and want to provide whatever support they can to the woman’s family.
Police are waiting for an autopsy to determine if any kind of medical condition impeded Robinson’s ability to get out of the freezer, according to ABC News.
The Westin Peachtree Plaza Atlanta issued a formal statement to the media in regard to Robinson’s death.
“We are devastated by the tragic loss of our long-time associate and member of our Westin family. We are working closely with the authorities in their investigation, and we are providing whatever support that we can for her family. As this is an active police investigation, we are unable to provide further information at this time. Any inquiries should be directed to the Atlanta Police Department.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reports that restaurant suppliers they interviewed continue to be perplexed as to how Robinson could have been trapped inside of the freezer as they state that fail-safe mechanisms have been a standard feature in walk-in freezers for decades now.
Chuck Day, owner of Manning Brothers Food Equipment in Athens, Georgia, says that it is “virtually impossible” to get locked inside one of these types of freezers nowadays. Day, who has been in the restaurant supply business for almost four decades, continued to say that even if the inside of the freezer is completely dark you can find the mechanism because the escape handles on newer freezers usually glow in the dark.
Day added that the person would have to know about the mechanism though and how to use it and that they would also have to act quickly to avoid succumbing to the freezing temperatures inside of the freezers, usually set at around 10 degrees below Fahrenheit.
Police state that they are still reviewing video from the night that Robinson entered the freezer to make sure that nothing else was going on at the time.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office indicates that it will take at least a couple of weeks before an official cause of death can be declared.
The Westin is well known to both Atlanta residents and tourists because of its height and cylindrical shape. It is one of Atlanta’s most notable skyscrapers and is located in the 200 block of Peachtree Street.
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