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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Woman who drowned in hotel pool identified, suffered from heart issue

UPDATED: Wed., June 19, 2019

By Jonathan Glover and Will Campbell The Spokesman-Review

The woman who drowned Tuesday afternoon at the Centennial Hotel in downtown Spokane was 74-year-old Marla Willeen Leander, the Spokane County Medical Examiner said Wednesday.

Leander, who resided in central Washington, died from drowning due to incapacitation from heart problems, the examiner ruled. Her death is listed as an accident.

Officials found Leander floating unconscious in the outdoor pool of the hotel, formerly the Red Lion at the Park, 303 W. North River Drive, just before 3 p.m. Medics arrived and performed CPR but were unable to revive Leander. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The hotel did not have a lifeguard on duty at the time, according to Matt Jensen, spokesman for Davenport Hotels, which owns the Centennial Hotel. The pool had a lifeguard on duty until last fall, when a waterslide was taken out and the hotel was no longer required to maintain a lifeguard position.

Investigators looked at the hotel’s surveillance footage and determined the death was an accident, said Cpl. Teresa Fuller, Spokane Police Department spokeswoman.

Leander’s daughter, Shawn Leander-Schmidt, said her mother’s death was unexpected. She described Leander as a good swimmer and a healthy woman who looked young for her age.

“You don’t see 74-year-old women who look like her,” Leander-Schmidt said. “She had a beautiful smile. She rode horses and would still shovel snow off the top of her trailer.”

Leander was born in Port Angeles, Washington, on July 27, 1944. She earned an art degree from Gonzaga and a master’s from Eastern Washington University before teaching English in Korea and Mexico, Leander-Schmidt said.

Leander lived on a family ranch near Mansfield, Washington, where she took care of her horses. She is survived by her four children, nine grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, Leander-Schmidt said.

“She was so vivacious and active,” Leander-Schmidt said. “She was phenomenal.”

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