A 77-year-old woman was found dead in a steam room at a fitness club in Littleton, Colorado, in March. Monday, March 30.
Akiko Belich was reportedly discovered by a fellow fitness club member early on Monday, March 30. However, records later revealed that Belich had checked in to the 24 Hour Fitness club at 1:06 p.m. the previous day, meaning that her body had been left overnight.
Jefferson County Deputy Coroner John Cline determined that Belich had been dead at least 12 hours when her body was found. She reportedly died of acute renal failure due to dehydration.
“Awful … obviously they didn’t bother to make rounds of the facility to make sure that everybody’s alright,” Sonya Wasinger, one of the two female gym members who found Belich’s body, told Fox 31.
“I wish I could’ve gone in and found her and revived her,” Wasinger added.
Wasinger also told Fox 31 that she found it hard to understand why nobody had checked on the steam room earlier.
“I just don’t want this to ever, ever happen again to anybody,” she said.
Melissa Belich, Akiko’s granddaughter, agreed that regular checks should have been conducted.
“It would have made a difference, she might still be here,” she said.
The fitness club, 24 Hours Fitness, refused to confirm if any member of staff had been disciplined. A manager told investigators that the women’s locker room area would only have been checked if a female member of staff was on duty.
“We are saddened that in March, a member of our 24 Hour Fitness Southwest Denver Sport location, on 8966 West Bowles Avenue, Denver, passed away while at the club," a company statement said. "We continually review our club protocols to ensure the safety and security of our members and to assure that everyone who visits a 24 Hour Fitness club has a positive experience. For privacy reasons, we don’t discuss staff or member information."
Failing to discover Akiko was not the fitness club's only mistake, according to Wasinger. She also criticized of the club for not closing down when police officers arrived.
“Traumatic. They should’ve shut it down right then and there when they found the body,” she said.
Only after Wasinger complained was the facility temporarily shut down, according to Fox 31.
Belich’s surviving relatives have hired an attorney and are believed to be pursuing a civil lawsuit.