A San Pablo woman has been charged with felony elder abuse after a resident at the Atria Senior Living facility in Walnut Creek died from drinking cleaning fluid — in a death that the facility allegedly first attempted to blame on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
We brought you the news in August that a 93-year-old woman died in San Mateo after "mistakenly being served dishwashing liquid as drinking juice," according to a statement from the assisted living facility chain Atria Senior Living, at whose facility the incident took place. Two others were hospitalized (one of them also died a month later from the same poisoning incident, according to KRON4). That incident occurred the morning of Saturday, August 27.
Yet we are now learning just four days earlier, at another facility in Walnut Creek also owned by the same chain Atria, a 94-year-old man also died from drinking cleaning fluid. The victim, Constantine Canoun, had been left unsupervised, and Contra Costa County prosecutors have charged 54-year-old San Pablo resident Lateshia Starling with felony elder abuse, As of Friday, she was still in custody on $100,000 bail.
Canoun drank the cleaning liquid on August 23, and according to a coroner’s report, died eight days later from “a caustic injury to [his] pharynx, esophagus and stomach” caused by the “ingestion of alkaline cleaning solution.” Prosecutors allege Starling “willfully caused and permitted” Canoun to be left in a “situation in which his health was endangered.”
To those of us who don’t work in elder care, it seems unthinkable this could happen. And very bizarrely, according to KRON4’s report, shortly after the incident, “Canoun’s family said Atria Park of Walnut Creek employees tried to attribute his death to eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.”
“These kinds of injuries that my dad suffered in no way shape or form can be caused by Flaming Hot Cheetos,” the victim’s son Cary Canoun told KRON4 in September.
In this Walnut Creek case, the Bay Area News Group says "Prosecutors say the health worker left Canoun unsupervised long enough for Canoun to drink the fluid."
In the other San Mateo case that killed two, KRON4 says, "The employee left the pitcher on a kitchen counter to handle a disruption in the dining room."
The Contra Costa DA announcement merely describes the accused Lateshia Starling as an “an assisted living worker,” and says she’s scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. today. But there maybe ought to be more questions about Kentucky-based Atria Senior Living, who operate nearly 400 locations nationwide, and reportedly make more than $750 million a year in revenue, as it kind of defies logic that something so abnormal could happen at two of their facilities in less than a week.
Related: Elderly Woman Dies, Two Hospitalized After Nursing Home Serves Them Dishwashing Detergent [SFist]
Image: Atria - Walnut Creek via Yelp