Girl found dead in bathroom: What really killed 21-year-old Mulund student?

Updated: Jan 10, 2019, 08:37 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Forensic surgeon inspects bathroom in Mulund residence where 21-year-old was found dead; will submit final cause of death after receiving police report on findings

The gas geyser in the bathroom, with the warning that it should be used in a well-ventilated area
The gas geyser in the bathroom, with the warning that it should be used in a well-ventilated area

The forensic surgeon who conducted the postmortem of Nipi Gala, 21, visited her Mulund residence on Tuesday along with Mulund police, to inspect the bathroom in which she was found dead last week, prima-facie due to suffocation. Dr Rahul Jadhav of Rajawadi Postmortem Centre says he will submit final cause of death after receiving the police report on findings by a technical expert. He has directed the police to get the gas geyser and its connection examined by a technical expert and submit the findings' reports.

The police have also been directed to record the statement of the general physician who has been treating Nipi for past three years for her cough and breathing problem, that would intensify during winter.

According to sources who visited the flat for inspection, the Galas have an attached toilet and bathroom in their fifth floor flat. The exhaust fan and the aluminum frame ventilation louver was shut, and it was in the same state even on the day of incident.

The aluminium frame ventilation louver which was shut at the time of the incident, was also shut when the experts visited
The aluminium frame ventilation louver which was shut at the time of the incident, was also shut when the experts visited

'Toilet not well ventilated'
Jadhav found that the toilet was not well ventilated and that the LPG geyser also has a clear warning on it which reads - Zero pressure - to be used in well ventilated areas only - which was ignored even by Nipi on the fateful day, as she had not switched on the exhaust nor had kept the window louver open.

According to Dr Jadhav, "After studying the bathroom, it is now clear that the level of oxygen might have dropped drastically, and probably led to suffocation due to increased level of water vapour, causing difficulty in breathing and subsequent pulmonary edema. Signs of pulmonary edema were visible in the lungs during the autopsy. Similar edema was also seen in the trachea and brain."

When asked whether the rubber tube connecting the knob which showed some tear, could have led to leakage of LPG, Jadhav replied, "I have examined the tube and it doesn't seem it might have caused any LPG leakage, however, I have asked the police to get a technical expert's report on the same."

The geyser with rusted tubes in the bathroom
The geyser with rusted tubes in the bathroom

Waiting for police report
And if the site visit was of any help to him, Dr Jadhav said, "I have already preserved the blood samples to rule out intoxication by gases or drugs. Also organ samples are preserved for histopathology examination to rule out any underlying ailment. Once the finding's reports are received I will accordingly submit the final cause of death."

"I have also spoken to the friends who had accompanied Nipi to Lonavala. They have ruled out any intoxication during their stay in Lonavala, and said Nipi was only enjoying their company and did not complain of any health issue," he added.

The rubber pipe carrying LPG in the bathroom is torn near the lever
The rubber pipe carrying LPG in the bathroom is torn near the lever

Girl Found Dead In Bathroom: Forensic Surgeon To Inspect Home Of Deceased

A warning for people
Dr Jadhav has a word of caution to the public, especially those who use gas geysers or immersion rods or even electric geysers, to ensure that the bathroom is well ventilated and the exhaust fan is switched on, or the window louvers are kept open to avoid any untoward dip in oxygen level to avoid a situation which endangers someone's life. Shripad Kale, Senior Police Inspector of Mulund Police Station, confirmed the visit of the forensic surgeon to study the scene of incident.

Expert speak
Pratap Karguppikar, former fire chief said, "We have to rule out two probabilities in the case of Nipi, firstly, if there was lack of oxygen in the bathroom at the time of incident due to improper ventilation; secondly whether deficiency of oxygen in the bathroom led to release of carbon monoxide, which she inhaled causing immediate suffocation. The facts will be cleared only once the blood samples collected during autopsy are tested by forensic experts at the State FSL, Kalina to rule out any traces of carbon monoxide in the blood.

Karguppikar also has a word of caution for people who use LPG geysers, to ensure that they are fitted by qualified licensed technicians, the bathroom is well ventilated and the LPG cylinder is always be kept in the open. The main valve of the gas pipeline should be checked periodically. In case of any doubts about erosions in pipelines or gas tubes, the geyser should not be operated until certified fit.

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