Tourists Shocked as Body Found in Hotel Water Tank

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  • LOS ANGELES (AP) — British tourist Michael Baugh and his wife said water had only dribbled out of the taps at the downtown Cecil Hotel for days.

    On Tuesday, after showering, brushing their teeth and drinking some of the tap water, they headed down to the lobby and found out why.

    The body of a Canadian woman had been discovered at the bottom of one of four cisterns on the roof of the historic hotel near Skid Row. The tanks provide water for the hotel taps and would have been used by guests for washing and drinking.

    “The moment we found out, we felt a bit sick to the stomach, quite literally, especially having drank the water, we’re not well mentally,” Michael Baugh, 27, said.

    Los Angeles police Sgt. Rudy Lopez said the county Department of Public Health had tested the water and deemed it safe. Department officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

    A call to the hotel also went unreturned.

    The remains of Elisa Lam, 21, were found by a maintenance worker at the 600-room hotel that charges $65 a night after guests complained about the low water pressure.

    Police detectives were working to determine if her death was the result of foul play or an accident.

    Lopez called it suspicious and said a coroner’s investigation will determine Lam’s cause of death.

    Before she died, hotel surveillance footage showed Lam inside an elevator pushing buttons and sticking her head out the doors, looking in both directions. She was later found in the water tank.

    The discovery turned the Baughs’ two-week vacation into a nightmare.

    “We’d hop in the shower, imagine, the water sprinkles out, and this is the only appropriate word, it dribbled out,” Baugh said.

    He and his wife Sabina, 27, who were on their first trip to the U.S., had booked their room as part of a tour package and had “no idea that it was in a dodgy area,” he said.

    The hotel is on Main Street in a part of downtown where efforts at gentrification often conflicts with homelessness and crime.

    “When you look at the area, it’s not surprising,” Baugh said of the discovery of the body. “Everyone we spoke to said why are you staying there? Don’t walk at night in that area, stay indoors.”

    Lam, of Vancouver, British Columbia, traveled alone to Los Angeles on Jan. 26 and was last seen five days later by workers at the hotel.

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