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updated: 12/27/2016 6:03 PM

Family sues over death at Des Plaines community center

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  • The family of a woman who died after collapsing at the fitness center in the Prairie Lakes Community Center is suing the Des Plaines Park District, claiming workers failed to respond adequately to the medical emergency.

      The family of a woman who died after collapsing at the fitness center in the Prairie Lakes Community Center is suing the Des Plaines Park District, claiming workers failed to respond adequately to the medical emergency.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2104

 
By Chacour Koop
ckoop@dailyherald.com

A week before Christmas last year, Alexandra Frunza was sitting on a leg exercise machine at the Prairie Lakes Community Center in Des Plaines when she slumped over and fell to the floor.

The 28-year-old medical student from Des Plaines, who was home from school at St. George's University in Grenada, was pronounced dead two hours later at a hospital, said David Statham, her family's attorney.

Now Frunza's family is suing the Des Plaines Park District, alleging fitness center employees did not help her for nearly 30 minutes after she collapsed on an exercise room floor.

"It's our position it at least deprived her of a chance to survive," Statham said Tuesday.

The suit, filed earlier this month in Cook County court, seeks in excess of $50,000 in damages.

Video surveillance footage shows Frunza sat on the leg exercise machine and collapsed to the floor at 3:02 p.m. Dec. 18, 2015, according to the lawsuit. She was still conscious minutes later, footage shows, and another patron reported seeing her coughing while on the floor at 3:17 p.m., the suit states.

A Des Plaines Park District employee performed first aid at 3:35 p.m., after another fitness center member alerted workers, according to the lawsuit. She was pronounced dead at about 5:20 p.m.

The death certificate lists viral meningitis as Frunza's cause of death, Statham said. The family reported Frunza had been in good health, he added.

The lawsuit claims fitness center employees should have helped Frunza sooner. The front desk has a closed-circuit television for staff to monitor workout rooms, and a wall made partially of glass allows viewers to see into the facility, according to the lawsuit.

The suit also alleges the park district failed to have enough staff members working to "respond to a medical emergency in reckless disregard to patrons of its fitness center" and did not properly train employees to respond to emergencies.

The park district released a statement Tuesday addressing the claims.

"The park district is aware of the unfortunate incident and recent lawsuit and plans to vigorously defend itself against these allegations and all claims made by the plaintiff," Executive Director Don Miletic said in the statement.

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