Authorities in suburban Lake County say that they are launching an investigation after two patients went missing from the same hospital, with one of those patients later passing away after being found unresponsive in a pond near the facility.
That patient, 61-year-old Michelle Riechers, was reported missing after walking out of the emergency room at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in suburban Barrington.
Officials say she walked out of the hospital without being discharged.
“We got notified at 7:15 pm about a 61-year-old female transported to hospital by family member …she was briefly seen and did walk out of hospital,” said Deputy Chief Chris Covelli.
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Lake County authorities say there were concerns about her mental state, with family members saying that she suffered from Huntington's Disease, a brain disorder.
“It was a very large search,” Covelli said. “We had a number of deputies – one of the canines as well as drone pilots and drones flying the area.”
Several hours later, a K-9 dog led deputies to the retention pond on the south end of the hospital property.
A drone was deployed, and the drone pilot located Riechers unresponsive in the water. Fire personnel performed life-saving measures, but she was pronounced deceased a short time later.
Foul play does not appear to be a factor, but the Lake County Sheriff's Office has launched an investigation.
In an emailed statement, the hospital told NBC 5:
"We are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and our hearts go out to this individual’s loved ones. Out of respect for the family's privacy, we will not be sharing further details at this time. We are coordinating with local authorities, and we refer all inquiries to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department."
On Tuesday, Lake County authorities issued an alert about 35-year-old Daniel D. Spears Jr., who was reported missing from the same hospital.
“He walked out of the hospital – again we did provide a pretty large search for him ,” Covelli said.
Spears was located Wednesday afternoon in Fox River Grove.
“He did nothing wrong. We just want to get him the treatment he needs,” Covelli said.
In an emailed statement the hospital told NBC 5:
"We are grateful for the partnership of our local first responders, and we are relieved that the individual was found safe. Out of respect for patient privacy, we are unable to share details and refer all inquiries to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department."
Authorities say an investigation is underway and the hospital is cooperating.