If I had my way, single people would never own hot tubs. But then I suppose someone would file a lawsuit because the right of single people to own a hot tub was being violated. So I suppose it’s alright if they own them, but there should be restrictions that keep single people from using hot tubs unless they are with someone.

My logic is that the only bodies I’ve ever had to pull out of hot tubs were single people who were alone at the time of using their hot tub. To my knowledge it’s never happened that a person has died in a hot tub and not been removed immediately by the people they were with or the responding paramedics. To my knowledge no one has ever said, “Wow, I can’t believe Jerry didn’t get out of the hot tub when I did last Thursday.?

In my experience, deaths involving hot tubs seem to fall into one of two categories—small children who manage to gain access to them and adults who die while using them. In the case of children, they are usually discovered fairly soon after falling in. The average time that a parent seems to become concerned about a missing child before actively searching for them is about 15-30 minutes (not a scientifically researched amount—just one I hear a lot). Of course it takes only minutes of submersion before irreversible damage has been done.

A key dynamic of a child drowning has kept me from ever having to remove a child from a spa (or even a swimming pool for that matter). That is to say, the person discovering the child in the water instinctively removes them from the water. I don’t think anyone put in that position would stop to consider the integrity of a potential crime scene or assume that the child was beyond saving. I know I wouldn’t.

When it comes to adults who die while using hot tubs, there is a different dynamic. The situation always seems to involve someone who “checks out? days before a friend or family member “checks up? on them. The end result is that the deceased has been decomposing in a small body of stagnant water for days. Decomp juice and purge from the body forms a frothy layer on the surface of the water resembling a pot of gumbo. The swarm of flies present makes one very conscious about whether their mouth is open or closed. The water’s color and transparency reminds me of combining all the different colors of Easter egg dye into one. This disgusting sight ensures that the person discovering the body never instinctively removes them from the water. Of course, neither do the police or paramedics—after all, they are well aware that’s my job.

One of my more recent experiences with a hot tub related fatality involved a gentleman who died days before he was found. He was in a seated position in the tub, but he had fallen forward to where he was face down in the water with his arms floating to the sides. The plan was for myself and the funeral director to raise the body back into a seated position using its arms—that worked fine. Next, the plan was to lift him at the armpits and pull him back until he was seated on the side of the tub. That too worked out fine.

The final step was to let him tip back and lower him onto the body bag as gently as possible. The skin at the area of the arm where the funeral director was holding the body slipped off and the full weight of the body jerked me forward. Somehow I managed to grab the side of the tub before falling face first on top of the body. Before I even had time to consider how fortunate I had been, I was splashed with what felt like a wall of water that the rigored legs of the body had kicked up as they left the hot tub. The only thing that prevented me from firing off a flood of expletives was the fact that my lips were busy keeping the water on my face from entering my mouth.


8 Responses to “”

  1. 1 Anne Marie
    September 28, 2005 at 2:00 pm

    I was curious as how the adults drowned in the hot tubs? I wondered if they just had a heart attacks or did they get suctioned into the jets?

    Anne Marie:

    Usually just heart attacks. I’ve never noticed any areas of the skin or seen clothing that was pulled into the water inlet for the jets. That’s probably a greater risk for smaller children and hopefully one that has been anticipated by manufacturers.

    A Douglas

  2. 2 Terri
    September 29, 2005 at 1:46 pm

    Mmmmmm… Human soup

    I thought you were going to say you fell into the water face first (but getting splashed was gross enough)… I’m curious… What’s the most common cause of death for an adult in a hot tub?


    Ultimately the death is determined to be a natural event or drug/alcohol related after completion of an autopsy (to rule out drowning).

    A Douglas

  3. October 12, 2005 at 9:45 pm

    And here I thought you were shunning me. You may be sorry to know you added to my pre-existing complex condition! But I forgive you now. Gruesome good fun here as per usual! Well, as long as I don’t actually know the ‘body’, that is! Then its goreous..I made that word up. Get it? gore–eous…a kind of take-off on “gloreous”…(You have to admit, I have one heck of a sense of humor!)

  4. October 13, 2005 at 3:43 am

    Read your archives. Great blog subject and well written. Looking forward to more gruesome details and gallows humour.

  5. 5 Brooke
    February 11, 2006 at 4:47 pm

    EEEeeeewwwwwww!!!!!! I can handle straight out blood, guts and ‘regular’ gore; but the idea of human soup splashing around and/or ON someone has definitely given me a strong case of nausea! Too bad you can’t carry around a full-sized shower stall w/hot water & a strong disinfectant-laden body wash. ;0p

  6. 6 Judy Chant
    March 4, 2006 at 3:06 am

    What would be the effect, better or worse than a spa, on a cadaver in a shower that has been left running on tepid to cold temperature for say 12 to 24 hours? Besides rigor, would the purged bowel and bladder contents wash away (presuming the body did not block the drain) to make it more satisfactory for yourself and the funeral officers?


    Fortunately, “purged bowel and bladder contents” are more often the exception than the rule, so odds are good that there wouldn’t be either. In the scenario you present, I would expect them to wash down the drain. I’d also expect colder temperature water to preserve the body a little better and hotter water to cause skin slippage. Parts of the body located in any standing water would wrinkle up and the skin would slip more easily when moved. Choosing between a shower and a spa, I’d rather remove a body from a shower with fecal matter present than remove one from a hot tub without fecal matter present. The spa makes for a much nastier sight and smell and my gloves only go up to my wrist.

    Thanks for the comment.

    A Douglas

  7. 7 Kristin
    January 18, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Your story reminded me of an incident at the mortuary.
    We had this lady that was as grey as clay. I had seen alot of
    funky colors on bodies but this one was just grey. She was shiny
    like a snail. Smelled not so good which was expected but it was to
    be expected. Her face looked like it was melted and was the usual putrid
    smell. She looked like she was slithering by the shape of her body. When I pulled her arm out of the area it had settled into it made the sound like a shoe sucking out of the mud. Got the rings off and I let go and it slid
    right back into its formed chamber of mush all on its own. We took off our gloves and I zipped up the bag and when I did that a very large sample of the grey lady completely coated my finger. It looked like I dipped it into the frosting bowl.. (Funny thing a germ o phobe works at a mortuary..haha.)
    I had grey lady finger syndrome for at least three weeks. I must have washed it a thousand times.

    And I always loved the sloshy autopsied bodies at the morgue that are super wet and whenever someone would move them you could feel the little splashes on your face. Like you it was all about keeping the mouth
    shut and the eyes closed. =)

  8. April 19, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Eeee. I posted a comment and I screwed up one of the tags. I meant to say…
    Ew. When I was sitting here reading it felt like I was splashed in the face. Bah, the tricks my mind plays on me.

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