Alaska Police Accidentally Report Dead Man as Missing

Alaska Police Accidentally Report Dead Man as Missing

News Dec 23, 2012

ANCHORAGE -- A man police reported as missing Thursday morning was found later to have been dead for more than a week, a police spokeswoman said.

Police said Friday morning that the man, George Nathan Krause, had died of a heart attack nine days earlier and was taken to the state medical examiner's office. Friday afternoon, police spokeswoman Anita Shell said the earlier information was incorrect and that Krause, 55, was never at the medical examiner's office.

In a statement to news media Thursday, police said George Nathan Krause's mother had reported Krause missing after not seeing him since the weekend of Dec. 8 and 9. A nurse at Providence Alaska Medical Center saw a television news report Thursday about the missing Krause and recognized him as a patient declared dead at the hospital Dec. 12, Shell said. Police eventually realized the state medical examiner's office had records of Krause's death and contacted his mother Thursday night. A Providence spokeswoman said late Friday that attempts by hospital staff to locate Krause's mother, his next of kin, had been "delayed" while he was at the hospital and that they were reviewing their notification process.

Shell said a witness reported seeing Krause clutch his chest and fall to the ground at the corner of Juneau Street and 46th Court, a half-block from his apartment, about 9 a.m. Dec. 12, Shell said. Another passer-by found Krause face down, not breathing, and called 911 while starting attempts to revive Krause, the police spokeswoman said. But Krause did not survive what was later determined to be a heart attack, she said.

Hospital staff told the medical examiner's office that Krause was dead, according to Greg Wilkinson, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Social Services, which oversees the medical examiner's office.

Krause carried identification, but neither the police, nor the hospital or the medical examiner's office, was able to find or notify his next of kin, Shell said.

"We keep information on police contacts with people that resulted in an arrest or paperwork to be written," Shell said. "But this was a medic call, not a police incident."

Between the time Krause's mother last saw him and her report to police that he was missing there would have been more than 1,000 police calls to search through, one by one, to find out Krause was dead, Shell said. The reports are not searchable by name, she said.

It's standard protocol in a missing-person case to check the jail and hospitals, Shell said, but it was unclear Friday if they had checked with Providence before announcing Krause was missing.

According to Providence spokeswoman Crystal Bailey, Krause's body was released to Witzleben Funeral Home the day he died.

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Providence staff try to notify a patient's family if the person dies while in the hospital's care, Bailey said in a written statement. That sometimes includes looking through the person's belongings or searching medical records to find a way to contact the family, she said.

"Despite these efforts, notification was still delayed for Mr. Krause's family," Bailey said. "Providence is actively reviewing what may have led to this delay. We are examining our internal processes as well as our collaboration with community partners to determine what led to the late notification and to ensure that family members receive information as quickly as possible."

A patrol officer notified Krause's mother, who has family visiting Anchorage from a village for Christmas, on Thursday night that Krause was dead, Shell said.

Copyright 2012 - Anchorage Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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