Canadian tourist Elisa Lam’s death ruled an accidental drowning


A Canadian tourist whose body was discovered in a water tank atop a downtown Los Angeles hotel four months ago died in an accidental drowning, coroner’s officials said Thursday.

A maintainence worker discovered the body of Elisa Lam, 21, on Feb. 19 after residents of the Cecil Hotel complained about low water pressure. At the time Lam had been missing for several weeks from the hotel after traveling there from Vancouver.

Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said her bipolar disorder was a significant condition, but did not elaborate.


Coroner’s officials noted that the medical examination found no visible signs of trauma on the body and toxicology tests found nothing that contributed to her death.

Lam had been missing for three weeks before being found. During that time, detectives with the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division appealed to the public for help in the case that included the release of video of her inside a Cecil Hotel elevator. In surveillance footage, Lam could be seen pushing buttons for multiple floors and at one point stepping out of the elevator and waving her arms.

The only ways to get to the roof are via a locked door that only employees have access to and a fire escape. The door is equipped with an alarm system that notifies hotel personnel if someone is on the roof, Los Angeles police Sgt. Rudy Lopez said.

Lam’s case inspired amateur sleuths to post numerous theories on websites about what might have happened to her. International media outlets, particularly in Canada and China, have also continued their coverage of the story.

Much of the speculation focuses on the surveillance video of Lam in the hotel elevator. The video has gone viral on the Chinese video site, with more than 3 million views and 40,000 comments in a 10-day span.

Many commenters said they were disturbed by the tape, with one calling it “spooky.”

“I knew about Elisa Lam but this is the first time I saw the video,” one wrote. “I’m so scared, I’m shaking. I’m numb.”

The case is not the first recent L.A.-based investigation to attract Chinese attention. Last year’s shooting deaths of two Chinese graduate students near USC brought Chinese media to the university and county courtrooms, and drew strong reactions overseas.

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