Crime - Sacto 911

No foul play in Citrus Heights woman’s death in laundry chute fall

Kalli Medina-Brown
Kalli Medina-Brown video image

The death of a Citrus Heights woman made national headlines after she fell down a laundry chute at a high-rise Las Vegas hotel early Sunday.

Surveillance video shows the woman, identified by the Clark County Coroner’s Office as Kalli Medina-Brown, 26, entering an 18th-floor room of the D Las Vegas that houses the chute, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Medina-Brown apparently went down the chute, landing in a laundry cart in the collection area of the third floor of the hotel-casino at 301 Fremont St. in downtown. She was identified Tuesday by the Coroner’s Office, though it has not released Medina-Brown’s cause of death.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said the woman’s death was not suspicious. Family members and co-workers remembered Medina-Brown as caring and always happy.

Staff members found her dead in the cart about 2:40 a.m. Sunday, said Officer Michael Rodriguez, a police spokesman. Officials eventually concluded there was no foul play, based on interviews with staff members and the surveillance video.

Rodriguez declined to say whether Medina-Brown was intoxicated, noting that toxicology tests would be conducted by the coroner. He added that the door to the room was unlocked.

In Sacramento, Rita Fratis, the victim’s great grandmother, remembered Medina-Brown as a “darling girl” who always seemed happy.

She was in Las Vegas with her husband, Weslee Brown, according to Fratis. Brown did not respond to a request for comment.

“She had a lot going for her,” Fratis said. “She hoped to become an attorney.”

Medina-Brown had worked in Folsom as a legal assistant at the law firm Forester Purcell Stowell for the past two years.

“Our clients truly benefited from her rare mix of wit, care, understanding and professional wisdom – as did we,” said Neil Forester in a statement. “On behalf of our work family here at Forester Purcell Stowell, we offer our most heartfelt sympathies to Kalli’s family and loved ones.”

Lorena Amaya, a D Las Vegas spokeswoman, said in a written statement that the hotel was cooperating with authorities but could not comment on the incident.

“We are saddened by the unfortunate incident that took place,” Amaya said.

Tony Dimond, an Elk Grove-based hotel consultant and principal at HTL Hospitality Advisors, said hotel management would likely be liable for the oversight in leaving the door unlocked.

Dimond said going down the chute would have been a struggle, since chutes are typically a 24-inch square with a handle and door that opens to roughly 45 degrees.

“Security should have been more alert in checking those doors,” said Dimond, who has managed and advised hotels for 30 years.

Dimond, however, noted that any reasonable person would know that falling through a chute would have deadly consequences.

Dimond said chutes commonly are secured and away from the public’s view. Chutes are a relic of older hotels and are not used in the larger international chains, which use carts to move dirty laundry, he said.

Death by laundry chute is rare but not unheard of.

A similar case in Canada in which a young woman plunged to her death in a hotel laundry chute last year prompted a lawsuit by the victim’s family. The lawsuit, filed in January, alleged that the chute was a “hidden and inviting danger,” noting that it was neither locked nor monitored, according to an article in the National Post of Toronto.

Friends mourn

Family and friends of Medina-Brown search for answers in this video.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang