August 26, 2009 in Idaho

911 call released in fatal fall at CdA Resort

By The Spokesman-Review
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Ian James in 1996.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

A night of drinking and arguing at the Coeur d’Alene Resort culminated in a teary call to 911 moments after a woman fell 12 stories to her death.

The caller was the woman’s boyfriend, the only witness to an incident he said was a suicide but police are still investigating.

“She got really mad at me because I wasn’t paying enough attention to her, she said,” Ian E. James, 38, told a police dispatcher. “I was not receptive to her advances….she was so mad, so mad.”

James told the 911 dispatcher he didn’t see Lynea M. Sprung Hambrice, 36, fall but said she’d jumped off the balcony after saying she wanted to kill herself.

The call was made at 12:34 a.m. on July 30. Three minutes earlier, James sent his brother a text message stating “he may need his help she got drunk and got crazy,” according to court documents.

The couple from Baton Rouge, La., had checked in to the resort that afternoon and planned to stay four nights.

James’ 20th Kellogg High School reunion was that weekend.

The 7-minute call is the first glimpse at how James, a financial consultant, reported the death.

“It’s not OK. Oh my God. Oh my God,” James said as the dispatcher tried calming him.

“People are going to ask you a whole lot of questions and you’re going to need to stay a little bit focused,” the dispatcher said.

“I can’t believe it. I cannot believe it. Oh my God,” replied James.

James said he and Hambrice drank beer and wine that night before arguing about the lack of sex in their relationship, according to minutes from a search warrant hearing.

That search warrant allowed police to scour the couple’s room at the luxury lakeside resort, where they seized a laptop, a ring, a watch, a purse, a cell phone and a prescription bottle made out to Hambrice.

James told police he was inside when he heard a couple of thumps, then went outside and saw her lying on the first floor, where police declared her dead.

Hambrice had been standing on the railing but James talked her down, then she went back outside, according to the minutes.

“She threatened stuff like this. I never thought,” James told the 911 dispatcher, trailing off.

Witnesses in the room below said they heard the couple argue and heard furniture moving and a sliding door open before “they saw something fly past the balcony,” according to the hearing minutes.

Hambrice’s blood-alcohol level was 0.23, police said.

A Kootenai County deputy coroner said Hambrice’s body landed in a way consistent with a fall; had she been pushed or jumped, her body would have landed farther out than it did.

But police are reviewing evidence and witness statements and awaiting finally toxicology reports before making a decision, said Sgt. Christie Wood.

“They’re trying to be very meticulous in this,” Wood said.

Listen to James’ conversation with a 911 dispatcher by clicking the audio tab at the top of the story.

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