The Dorchester County coroner said Monday that a 37-year-old woman’s repeated drunken falls and decisions not to seek medical help might have contributed to her death this spring.
Tabetha Grooms of Turner Street in Summerville died May 9 after she was found unresponsive in a bath tub.
Curious circumstances, such as questions about why family members didn’t seek help for Grooms and signs of head trauma, made the death suspicious.
But an extensive investigation that included interviews and medical studies revealed that the death was an “unfortunate accident,” Coroner Christopher Nisbet said. Her cause of death was listed as “anoxic encephalopathy, a brain condition caused by the absense of oxygen.
Lt. Tony Phinney of the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office said his investigators had come to the same conclusion.
A few days before her death, Grooms fell down a flight of marble stairs in Florida, where she was visiting her 20-year-old son. During the tumble, she might have suffered an injury that got progressively worse during the next few days, Nisbet said.
Alcohol consumption caused further instability for Grooms, and she fell again May 9 in her Summerville house.
Her husband, Larry Grooms, told deputies that she had been drinking since the night before and fainted while trying to close a window.
He took her to the bathroom and helped her start a shower, he told deputies. She fell again moments later, and paramedics were called.
She later was pronounced dead at Medical University Hospital.
Nisbet said it was unclear why family members hadn’t taken her to a hospital after the initial falls. It might have been her own choice, he said.
“We were not a part of this family’s life on a daily basis and cannot judge someone due to their personal choices,” Nisbet said in a statement. “What we can do, and have done, is prove that her death was not by the hand of another.”
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.