COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The El Paso County Coroner's Office confirmed that the 89-year-old woman who was found on a bench outside of Union Printers Home last month froze to death.
Margarita Sam was found on a bench on the morning of Feb. 3. Residents told KRDO that Sam had gotten in an argument with a staffer at Union Printers Home either late Sunday or in the early morning hours Monday, and then went outside to cool off. Hours later, she was found dead and nursing home staff called Colorado Springs police.
An autopsy report was released to KRDO Wednesday, and the medical examiner wrote, "It is my opinion that Margarita Sam, an 89-year-old female, died as a result of hypothermia."
The family of Margarita Sam tells us management never contacted them about the death; instead, they learned about it through the El Paso County Coroner's Office.
According to a family's statement to a local church, Sam was found half-nude on a bench outside of one of the main buildings at 11 a.m.
The autopsy report says that the coroner's office received Sam wearing "a pair of nylon stockings, a pink bra, a white skirt ... and a white short-sleeved shirt."
Records from the National Weather Service show that temperatures dropped to 26 degrees that morning.
Since the coroner's report was released the family of Sam has hired the McDivitt Law Firm and Reddick Moss to look into their loved one's death. “Oftentimes these are absolutely avoidable," says attorney David McDivitt. "The injuries are avoidable, these deaths are avoidable.”
McDivitt says Margarita's family still can't believe Sam froze to death at a nursing home, "People go into facilities like this so that they could have that support and that care provided to them and to find out that they are allowed to freeze to death outside is alarming."
As of now, a lawsuit has not been filed in this case but McDivitt and Brent Moss, an attorney currently involved in a wrongful death lawsuit against Union Printers Home, will make a final determination once they discover how this all happened for a family that wants nothing more than justice.
"The family is eager to get closure but they are eager for answers and they are eager for accountability," McDivitt says.
Since we first reported Sam's death, the state Department of Health has started a thorough investigation and has effectively shut Union Printers Home down.
KRDO has also learned that there is currently an open wrongful death civil lawsuit filed against the home in 2019.
We spoke to District Director Randy Kuykendall after getting the letter, and he confirmed that the suspension is a culmination of a few incidents at the facility. Kuykendall said the owners of Union Printers Home, Valor Health Network/Heart Living Centers, were fully cooperative with the investigation.
Kuykendall added that Union Printers Home is bringing in management to help residents find new places to live. The state said it anticipates that all residents will be out by March 27.
At this point, the case is not a criminal investigation. However, CSPD is looking into that possibility.
“Our detectives with the crimes against at-risk adults are really looking into this incident," said Natashia Kerr with CSPD. "They're investigating the circumstances around this death and if there are any potential criminal charges.”