A pathologist hired to investigate the mysterious death of the Norwegian and American women in Phi Phi Island now states that the lung tissue from the women has gorne missing.
“He said her lung tissue was gone,” said the brother of the American woman, Robert St. Onge.
The pathologist has not determined what caused her lungs to fail, he said, and a final report on her May 2 death may still be weeks away. But members of St. Onge’s family said they feel the pathologist’s findings, though preliminary, are enough to contradict resently official public statements made by Thai investigators that the two women were victims of food poisoning.
“I am 99.9 percent sure she did not die of food poisoning,” said Ryan Kells, Jill St. Onge’s fiancee, who was with her when she died. “She suffocated to death. I am not a doctor, but I know when someone can’t breathe.”
Jill St. Onge vacation ended tragically when her fiancée found her in their hotel room vomiting and unable to breathe. He rushed her to a hospital where she died. Jill St. Onge was healthy and there was no obvious explanation for her sudden death, her brother said. Just hours after St. Onge fell ill, Norwegian Julie Bergheim, who was staying in a room next to St. Onge’s at the Laleena Guesthouse, came down with similar symptoms and died. According to Thai media reports, police there are focusing on food poisoning as the cause of the women’s deaths. Mondaythe 25 of may, the Phuket Gazette quoted a police commander as saying blood samples from both women indicated possible food poisoning from seafood.
Still, the commander said, those results were only preliminary. “I don’t know when the official results will be released,” Maj. Gen. Pasin Nokasul told the newspaper. “The lab work [is being] expedited because the embassies of the two tourists want to know the cause of death as soon as possible.”
Kells response to Nokasul’s statement was harsh.
“That she died of food poisoning is a ridiculous statement to make,” he said, adding it is unlikely they would have been “the only ones affected.”
Dr. William Hurley, medical director for the Washington Poison Center, is also skeptical that food poisoning could have been responsible. In food poisoning cases, he said, “usually what kills you is the dehydration, not the toxin.”
He added, “Food poisoning is not something that typically kills someone this quickly. It takes days.”
Ingestion of a variety of chemicals could have caused Onge and Bergheim’s sudden deaths, Hurley said, and could be consistent with the condition of Onge’s lungs. But without further information, he said, it is impossible to say what killed the two women.
Kells has stated, taht he thourght that something in the hotel where they were where staying made Jill sick. He remembers a “chemical smell” in the room and thinks he avoided becoming ill because he spent less time in the room.
Saturday the 30 of may, the Phuket Wan newspaper reported that investigators visited the Laleena Guesthouse, taking samples and removing filters from the air conditioning units in the rooms where both victims had stayed.
Rat Chuped, the owner of the hotel, told the newspaper her property was not to blame. “There is no problem with my guesthouse,” she said.