Eighty-nine-year-old Ruth Johnson of Severna Park, Maryland died over the weekend. It was the second time in a little more than two weeks Ms. Johnson was pronounced dead. This time it appears she’s not coming back.
That was not the case on October 1. That’s when Ruth Johnson was on the floor of an upstairs bathroom in her home for three hours as police officers made notifications of her death to her family, a physician and the medical examiner. Often it is fire or EMS taking the blame for these incidents. In this case it appears from news reports the Anne Arundel County Fire Department wasn’t called to the scene until it was noticed by a State Anatomy Board employee that Ruth Johnson was alive (and soon talking).
Officer Christopher Brown and Sgt. Randy Bell went to the home of Ruth Shillinglaw Johnson, 89, in the Colchester on the Severn neighborhood at 4:07 p.m. to check on her well-being.
The officers found an unlocked side door to Johnson’s home and went inside.
The officers walked through the master bedroom and opened a bathroom door. There, they found Johnson motionless on the bathroom floor. Her skin was blue and she was not breathing, the report says. The officers’ experience led them to believe Johnson had been dead for a couple of days.
Thinking Johnson was clearly deceased, the officers did not check for a pulse.
They labeled the call an “unattended death” and contacted Johnson’s adult son, who lives in Utah. He told police his mother suffered from medical problems.
Police learned from Johnson’s son that his mother had made arrangements with the State Anatomy Board to donate her body for science, the report says.
The board was contacted and said they’d have a transport team come to the home.
Charles Morgan, an employee of the anatomy board, arrived at Johnson’s home around 7:10 p.m. – three hours after Johnson was found, seemingly lifeless, on her bathroom floor.
He went upstairs and entered the bathroom. He was preparing to take Johnson’s body away when he heard her take a deep breath and saw her move her arm.
Morgan ran out of the bedroom and yelled for the officers.
Lt. Frank Tewey, a police spokesman, said the department is aware of the incident.
“It is currently under administrative review to ensure that proper procedures were followed,” he said.