Authorities are investigating the death of a disabled woman whose body was found in her bathtub at Lakeland Village.
Billie Jean Klossner, 41, died Sunday in her cottage at Lakeland, a state institution for the developmentally disabled in Medical Lake.
A pathologist said Klossner probably had a seizure. But authorities also are investigating whether she drowned in the bathtub while she wasn’t being watched.
Klossner suffered from severe epilepsy. She was mentally retarded, ever since reacting to a whooping cough vaccine as a baby. She had lived at Lakeland since she was about 7.
“She had a whole campus full of love,” said Betty Taylor, Klossner’s mother. “It was a wonderful place for her, and someone was negligent. That’s the way I feel.”
Lakeland investigators are looking into the death. Administrators have also asked the Washington State Patrol to investigate.
Medical Lake police and an independent doctor also are reviewing the case, said Laurie Zapf, regional administrator for the state Division of Developmental Disabilities, which oversees Lakeland.
“I will not comment on it while it’s under investigation,” Zapf said.
Dr. George Lindholm, the pathologist who performed an autopsy, said Tuesday that Klossner’s death was either accidental or natural. The distinction is important for Lakeland, for the woman’s family and for insurance.
Klossner could have died from a seizure before slipping under the water. Or she could have had a seizure and then drowned.
Preliminary results indicate a seizure played a role because she had bite marks on her tongue, Lindholm said.
The coroner’s report said Klossner was in the tub, but didn’t say whether any water was in the tub, Lindholm said.
Taylor said she’d been told that her daughter had stepped into the tub, had a seizure and slipped under the water.
“The people who run it, I don’t blame,” Taylor said. “Somebody just maybe left her alone too long. She loved to take a bath.”
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