Mysterious security incident at St. Louis hospital

Hospital attempts to block police investigation; woman may have been pushed from window


EAST ST. LOUIS - A 22-year-old patient at Kenneth Hall Regional Hospital who tumbled out of a third-floor window and fell to the ground was in critical condition Friday.

The woman, Krystal Coleman, whose birthday was Friday, was moved to an undisclosed St. Louis hospital.

John Case, 53, of Wood River, was in the Kenneth Hall parking lot about 25 feet from where the woman landed on the concrete about 2 p.m. Wednesday. He was waiting for a friend, whom Case had driven to see a doctor.

Case caught the woman's fall on his cell phone's camera. As soon as the woman landed, hospital workers rushed out with a stretcher, put her on it and rushed back into the hospital, he said.

"I was just sitting there waiting and I looked up and the woman came flying out of the window," Case said. "She looked like she jumped, but I couldn't say for sure."

Case tried to help the woman, who was bleeding but conscious. He said hospital security pushed him back. A security guard took his cell phone away and deleted his pictures, saying that it was an invasion of privacy, Case said.

"I looked over to the hospital and there she was, coming out of the hospital window," Case said. "I couldn't believe it, so I started taking pictures."

The guard eventually returned Case's phone. Now, Case is trying to retrieve the pictures in the phone's "smart chip."

East St. Louis police were investigating whether the woman jumped or was pushed, said Detective Kenneth Berry. Berry said that Kenneth Hall officials refused to allow them access to investigate for hours on Thursday. They almost had to get a search warrant to gain access, he said.

"We were just appalled," Berry said. "They started giving us a runaround and said we needed to get subpoenas."

Kenneth Hall officials say that a separate medical organization rents the part of the hospital where the woman was being treated and, under privacy laws, they could not give out information on the incident. Attempts to contact that organization were unsuccessful.

"Since the young lady was not our patient at our facility, we could only provide limited information to the East St. Louis Police Department about the accident," read a statement released by a hospital spokeswoman.

Berry said police had only found out about the woman's fall on Thursday and only after Coleman's father called East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Baxton. Hospital officials then refused to allow police detectives in to investigate, Berry said.

"They were trying to get their facts in order," Berry said. "We just couldn't believe that they didn't call us when it happened."

Police finally got entry into the hospital room late on Thursday evening, Berry said. The window the woman fell from was not broken when police got there. Police are now trying to determine whether the hospital had replaced or repaired the window before police arrived.