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New details surface in laundry chute death

Kalli Medina-Brown spent about 15 minutes inside the small room that accesses the D Las Vegas’ laundry chute before plunging 15 floors down the chute to her death Feb. 21 in what the coroner’s office has ruled an accident, a police report released Friday shows.

The Citrus Heights, Calif., woman was staying with her husband and family on the downtown hotel’s 16th floor the night of Feb. 20. The events before her death were detailed as follows:

Before she entered the chute room, surveillance footage described in the Metropolitan Police Department report shows Medina-Brown, 26, in the 16th floor’s stairwell at 2:11 a.m. Feb. 21.

A minute later, the scene recorded by another camera shows her entering the 18th floor chute room adjacent to the stairwell. It’s unclear why she was on that floor or why she entered the chute room through the closed but unlocked door.

There was no security camera in the chute room itself, but Metro said the recording from the hallway camera shows no one else entering the room before or after Medina-Brown.

At 2:28 a.m., a porter in a third-floor laundry-collection room heard a “thud.” When he looked inside the 6-foot-deep laundry bin at the bottom of the chute — meant to catch guest-room linens tossed from each of the hotel’s 30 floors above — he saw the body and called for help.

Las Vegas Fire Department medics called Metro to investigate at 2:40 a.m. because the situation was “suspicious,” the report read.

Medina-Brown and her husband had argued before she entered the chute room, family members told investigators that morning. It wasn’t clear what time they fought, but a hotel security guard went to the family’s room at 2 a.m. because of a noise disturbance. A family member answered the door at the time.

Security cameras recorded Medina-Brown’s husband entering the couple’s room on the 16th floor 2:22 a.m., the report said. Between then and when the woman fell, he did not leave the room.

As detectives were investigating Medina-Brown’s death, they noted she was found at the bottom of the large laundry bin on her left side, almost in the fetal position, her long dark hair covering her face.

She was wearing gray tights and a black dress.

As they worked to identify Medina-Brown, another family member also staying at the D reported her missing to the hotel. It’s unclear when the family was told that Medina-Brown had been found in the laundry area.

The cause of death was later ruled multiple blunt force injuries. The manner: accident.

What factors lead to the determination of accidental death are unclear. Coroner John Fudenberg said the autopsy report, including the toxicology results, will not be released at the request of family.

In order for the coroner’s office to rule a death a suicide, investigators typically look for indicators such as a history of depression or suicide attempts, Fudenberg said.

“There’s no reason for us to believe that she intended to commit suicide,” he said.

Attempts to reach Medina-Brown’s family through a representative were unsuccessful.

The D Las Vegas also did not respond to a request for comment.

The chute room’s door was closed but not locked when Medina-Brown entered it, investigators said. Inside was the entrance to the large chute — so wide and deep that the Fire Department initially referred to it as an elevator shaft when crews called police.

Inside the chute room, the chute itself is closed off from the room by a latched door similar to those on a restroom stall, bearing a sign reading “danger of falling.”

A few feet — room enough to wheel in a laundry cart — separates the inner door from the edge of the chute.

City Building and Safety Director Chris Knight told the Review-Journal the hotel’s laundry chute complies with current Las Vegas building and safety codes. The department hasn’t discussed altering the code since Medina-Brown’s death, he said.

Because Medina-Brown was not an employee and no employees have filed a complaint about the chute, the Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration is not investigating the matter, said Teri Williams, an agency spokeswoman.

City Council members Stavros Anthony and Bob Beers said neither the chute nor Medina-Brown’s death have come up in discussion yet. No council members would comment when asked if the accident would prompt a broader review of code and safety requirements.

Las Vegas Review-Journal writer Colton Lochhead contributed to this report. Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Find her on Twitter: @rachelacrosby

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