A kitchen employee at the Westin Peachtree Plaza was found dead in one of the hotel's walk-in freezers Tuesday morning, reports Channel 2. Atlanta Police Department tells the TV station the woman was locked inside the freezer overnight, and foul play is not believed to be a factor. APD is looking into the incident and will contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as part of its investigation.
The woman's family contacted the hotel after she did not return home from work Monday night, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Staffers reportedly looked for the woman and alerted police when her body was found Tuesday morning. Police told the AJC evidence shows the woman tried to get out of the freezer, which had an exit mechanism.
The Downtown Westin hotel has four dining options on site — Bar 210, The Cafe, Starbucks Coffee Bar, and Sun Dial. It isn't clear if the employee was found in one of these establishments' facilities.
Update: March 25, 9:30 a.m. A Westin spokesperson provided Eater Atlanta the following statement.
Our Westin family is saddened by the tragic loss of our long-time associate, Carolyn Robinson, who worked with us in our kitchen and cafe for over 35 years. We continue to focus on providing support for her family and for our associates.
The Westin Peachtree Plaza has worked closely with the Atlanta Police Department and every investigative agency trying to determine what happened to Mrs. Robinson. Between Tuesday, March 22 and Wednesday, March 23, the Atlanta Medical Examiner, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and an independent manufacturer representative conducted more than 30 functional tests over five separate testing occasions on the exit device on the inside of the freezer door in question. In every test the exit device and door worked properly and were fully operational.
On one of those testing occasions, a third party company, Atlanta Equipment Services, which is the Manufacturer's Authorized Service Company, tested the door and has affirmed that "the door handle on the freezer worked perfectly," that "inside the freezer the push button handle allowed access out of the freezer with ease," and that "there were no defects."
Obviously, we very much want to know what happened and how, but there are no answers yet. We have to wait for the determination by the medical examiner.