SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A woman's body was found dead Tuesday in a San Francisco hospital stairwell as authorities investigated whether she was a patient who went missing more than two weeks ago.
The unidentified woman's body was found by an employee in a rarely used exterior stairwell around 10 a.m., San Francisco General Hospital spokeswoman Rachael Kagan said.
It wasn't known how long the woman had been on the stairway — which is used as a fire escape — or how she got there, Kagan said.
"It's very concerning," Kagan told reporters. "We're distressed and don't know what happened. It's our top priority to find out."
The cause of the woman's death was being investigated by the San Francisco Sheriff's Department and police.
It also hasn't been determined if the woman is 57-year-old Lynne Spalding, who was being treated for an infection at the hospital when she disappeared from her room on Sept. 21. A native of Great Britain, Spaulding was last seen two days after she had been admitted as friends say she was very thin and frail, was on medication and probably very confused.
A missing persons report was filed with police, who have been investigating her disappearance.
David Perry, a spokesman for Spaulding's family, said he found it disturbing that a body had been found in a hospital stairwell.
"What is happening here today is very distressing, and although we hope that our friend and our colleague Lynne Spalding will come back to us alive and healthy, we're very concerned about this, and we're awaiting for either identification or confirmation that this isn't Lynne," he said.