Medical examiners told the family of a woman who died last week in a cryotherapy chamber at a south valley business that her death happened in "seconds."
Chelsea Ake-Salvacion, 24, of Las Vegas, was identified at the Clark County coroner's office by her uncle, Albert Ake, hours after her body was found Tuesday, he told the Review-Journal on Sunday.
That same day, investigators at the coroner's office told him it was too soon to tell what caused his niece's death, but she died in seconds, Ake said.
They told him they were looking into the gases she inhaled before her death, as well as the chamber's mechanics and whether she could keep her head above the chamber to breathe.
Rejuvenice, where Ake-Salvacion worked and died, offers facials and whole-body cryotherapy, which involves brief exposures to air temperatures below minus 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Some athletes say the regimen enhances recovery after exercise and helps rehabilitation after injury.
Cryotherapy is described as the use of low temperatures for "medical therapy," the center's website said. It's been used as "early as the seventeenth century."
Ake-Salvacion's family disagrees with TV news reports that said the woman's death was the result of operator error. She was an aesthetician and a chamber operator, her uncle said.
"She knew exactly what she was doing," Ake said.
She had done the procedures many times, prompting her bosses to promote her to a management position at the center, 8846 S. Eastern Ave., near Pebble Road, Ake said.
On Oct. 19, Ake-Salvacion worked as the center's night supervisor. She was seen on video cameras closing the business, he said. She was last seen on video walking to the back of the center.
Her body was found when the business reopened Tuesday morning, Ake said. Coroner's office staff said Saturday she was declared dead at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
A Rejuvenice employee who called to give the family condolences told the family it was common for employees to use the machine on their own and with no supervision, Ake said.
It still isn't clear how Ake-Salvacion died.
The center's website advertises two machines, the "Cryosauna" and the "Cryochamber." The first is a single-user device in which the user's head sticks out the top. Video of the chamber in the website shows a TV host's head sticking out of it while gas billows from underneath.
The Cryochamber requires users to wear a mask, earmuffs, slippers, gloves and underwear. The Cryosauna does not require users to wear a mask or earmuffs.
It wasn't immediately clear which machine Ake-Salvacion used.
Ake-Salvacion's family said they don't want to speculate about what caused her death. The family asked for privacy until the coroner's report is complete, her uncle said.
Her autopsy was scheduled for today, and lab results won't be available for six to eight weeks.
Ake-Salvacion was passionate about her job, her uncle said. The Honolulu native was well-loved by her family.
She was "a great woman who will be missed," Ake said. "We're just all mourning."
She was planning to move home next year after she gained more experience at the center, Ake said. She also had a job at the Commonwealth.
"Anyone who knows Chelsea knows that she's a kindhearted and sweet person," Ake said. "She made sure that she made everybody comfortable and she was there (for them)."
Her funeral is scheduled for Thursday in Honolulu, Ake said.