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Woman Found Dead In Water Tank Deserves More Attention And Respect

Ashima Agrawal |
February 24, 2013 | 5:40 p.m. PST


Elisa Lam's body was found in the water tank of the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. (Creative Commons)
Elisa Lam's body was found in the water tank of the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. (Creative Commons)
How would you feel if you knew Elisa Lam, the 21-year-old Canadian who was found in the water tank of the Cecil Hotel, and all the media was talking about were the circumstances in which she was found? You would probably be very angry at the lack of respect shown for Lam, demonstrated by the media's focus on the contamination of the water and the guests’ reactions to the finding of her body, rather than on Lam herself.

Lam flew to California from Vancouver on January 26. Officials say that her intended destination seemed to be Santa Cruz in Northern California, but her reasons for coming to the state are still uncertain. Lam was last seen on January 31 in the hotel. Lam had been reported missing for three weeks before the hotel mechanic found her body in the water tank.

Although some guests are rightfully appalled at the fact that her body was found in the water and wish to express their concerns, I believe that there needs to be an air of respect in discussing this unfortunate situation. The media is paying more attention to the circumstances in which Lam was found, instead of why this happened in the first place.

This is most likely going to turn into a murder investigation. Lam was captured on the hotel surveillance system while she was in the hotel’s elevator, and in that recording it is obvious that she was distressed. She entered the elevator and pushed buttons for many of the floors. She then stepped out, quickly looking back and forth, then waving her arms about in a strange fashion. It seems obvious that she was frightened.

Apart from reporting on the contaminated water, the guests’ reactions and the hotel’s response to the finding of Lam's body, the only reports dealing directly with Lam's tragic death involve what the police have said about it. The police announced that her death involves very suspicious circumstances, given that the water cisterns in which her body was contained sit on a raised platform, ten feet tall, and therefore to reach the tanks would require a tall ladder.

What befuddles me is that the police searched the roof of the hotel soon after it was discovered that Lam was missing. In their search, they were even accompanied by dogs; yet, Sgt. Rudy Lopez of the Los Angeles police said that it is unknown if the tanks were even inspected. The water tanks, clearly large enough to contain a human body that had fallen or been thrown in, should have been the first place the police looked while searching the roof.

The public does have a right to be concerned about the potentially contaminated water. But Elisa Lam is the victim here, not the guests or the hotel, and she deserves the most attention.



Reach Contributor Ashima Agrawal here.



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