When a maintenance worker at L.A.'s Cecil Hotel opened the hotel's rooftop water tank to investigate low water pressure, he found something unexpected: a dead body. Investigators believe the remains of Elisa Lam had been inside the tank since January 31, when the 21-year-old was last seen. As police work to determine if her death was the result of foul play or "a very, very strange accident," the LA County Department of Public Health is investigating a more urgent matter: the potentially contaminated water, which hotel residents had, for several weeks, used to bathe in and brush their teeth.
"The water did have a funny taste," Sabrina Baugh told CNN on Wednesday. She and her husband used the water for eight days.
"We never thought anything of it," the British woman said. "We thought it was just the way it was here."
"The shower was awful," she said. "When you turned the tap on, the water was coming black first for two seconds and then it was going back to normal."."
"The moment we found out, we felt a bit sick to the stomach, quite literally, especially having drank the water, we're not well mentally," her husband, Michael Baugh, told CBS.
The water from the tank was also used in the hotel's restaurant and its coffee shop, which will remain closed until all its equipment is sanitized.
Terrance Powell, a director at LA's Department of Public Health, said the likelihood of contamination was "minimal" due to the tank's large size, though he said the department was erring on the side of caution. "Our biggest concern is going to be fecal contamination because of the body in the water," Powell said.
Aside from Lam's mysterious disappearance (she was last seen by surveillance footage pushing elevator buttons and sticking her head out the doors), the strangest part of the story is the fact that 11 of the hotel's residents elected to stay there, despite offers from the management to move to another hotel.
Those who chose to remain in the hotel were required to sign a waiver in which they acknowledged being informed of the health risks and were being provided bottled water, Powell said.
[Image via AP]