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Elderly Man Burned to Death in Detroit-area Hospital

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 13, 2010

Investigators in Farmington Hills, MI, are examining the suspicious burning death of an elderly patient at Botsford Hospital, who was discovered aflame in his bed.

Walter Gajewski, 92, a patient in the hospital's psychiatric unit, died from his burning injuries shortly after the Jan. 6 incident, investigators say.

"Right now, the Wayne County Medical Examiner has ruled it a homicide only because we have not been able to prove otherwise," says Farmington Hills Police Lt. Mike Stasch. "The investigation continues and the method or manner of death can be changed later if we can prove that it was other than what they're saying it is right now."

Stasch says there are no suspects in the late-night incident, which occurred well after visiting hours. Investigators have not ruled out suicide. "Certainly that is something we are looking at," Stasch says.

Gajewski was found in flames by a nurse, says Botsford Public Relations Manager Nancy Dumas O'Neill. He was taken to the emergency department at the 330-bed teaching and community hospital, but was quickly transferred to the burn unit at Detroit Receiving Hospital, where he died on Friday.

"It is very puzzling," Dumas O'Neill says.


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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