Hotel: Exit door was working after woman found dead inside

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ATLANTA (AP) — A downtown Atlanta hotel says it found no problems with the exit door of a walk-in freezer where a woman was found dead inside.

The Westin Peachtree Plaza conducted repeated tests of the freezer door and found that the door handle "worked perfectly" after Carolyn Robinson, 61, was found dead inside, the hotel said in a statement.

Investigators believe Robinson, a kitchen worker, spent about 13 hours inside the freezer before her body was found Tuesday morning.

Police weren't certain whether the mechanism worked properly, adding that finding that out would be up to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Atlanta police Lt. Charles Hampton said shortly after her death. The federal agency is still investigating.

After Robinson was found, more than 30 tests were done on the exit device on the inside of the freezer door, the Westin said, adding that an OSHA representative took part in the testing.

"In every test the exit device and door worked properly and were fully operational," the hotel said in its statement.

Atlanta Equipment Services, which services that type of freezer, also tested the Westin's unit and found that "the door handle on the freezer worked perfectly," adding that "inside the freezer the push button handle allowed access out of the freezer with ease," the hotel said.

"Obviously, we very much want to know what happened and how, but there are no answers yet. We have to wait for the determination by the medical examiner," the hotel said in its statement.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner hasn't determined how Robinson died.

Workers have died in walk-in freezers in the U.S. — some when they became trapped inside and at least two cases where workers were overcome by carbon dioxide vapor — but such deaths are relatively rare, according to records from OSHA and Associated Press archives.

In June 2012, a restaurant owner in Nashville, Tennessee, died of accidental suffocation by carbon dioxide inhalation after becoming trapped in a cooler, a medical examiner found. Police said Jay Luther went into the cooler and the door shut, trapping him inside. The interior door release was broken. Authorities said the cooler contained dry ice, which had been used to preserve food due a power outage.

In August 2002, a 55-year-old woman froze to death after she became trapped inside a walk-in freezer at a ranch east of Meeker Colorado, Rio Blanco County Sheriff Phil Stubblefield told the AP at the time. Stubblefield said it appeared a safety lock on the door of the freezer had failed and trapped her inside.

In 1999, OSHA blamed two Boston companies after it said a worker became overcome by carbon dioxide fumes. The fumes came from blocks of dry ice, which were being used to preserve food while the freezer was being repaired.