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Undetected death occurred in a largely vacant office

February 18, 2011 |  2:48 pm

Rebecca_wells Los Angeles County officials released additional details Friday regarding the worker who died last week in a cubicle in a Downey office building but went undetected for a day.

The death of Rebecca Wells, 51, caused many people to ask how someone could die on the job with no one noticing.

Officials said Friday that the death occurred after hours in a largely unoccupied area of a building at 9150 Imperial Highway in Downey. County officials said Wells normally worked in East Los Angeles but went to the Downey location Feb. 11 to conduct audit work, bringing paperwork and a laptop computer with her.

"Ms. Wells used a vacant cubicle on the second floor, in a row of unoccupied cubicles," the statement said. "This building contains a large number of cubicles, but no other employees were working directly in or around this row." 

A fellow auditor for the Internal Services Department was the last colleague known to have contact with Wells. The two ended a meeting about 5 p.m., at which point Wells said she planned to work until 6:30 p.m., according to the county's statement. Wells also phoned a family member shortly after 6 p.m. to say she planned to work until 6:30 p.m.

She was found by a security guard the next day slumped over at her desk after a family member called the security office to say that Wells was missing. Wells had no pulse when she was discovered, county officials said.

Fire Department officials called to the building pronounced her dead at the scene. The cause of death is still unknown.


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-- Garrett Therolf

Photo: Rebecca Wells.

Credit: KTLA-TV Channel 5