From the third-floor window, it was a 34-foot fall to the parking lot below.
That’s where a Buffalo, New York, nursing home staff member found William Strasner, 87, as the worker arrived for a shift at 6 a.m. Monday. Strasner had been laying in the Emerald South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center parking lot for roughly 20 minutes by that point, WKBW reports.
Strasner used sheets from his bed and clothing to assemble a makeshift rope, which he planned to use to climb out the window and escape from the facility, police said, according to The Buffalo News. But Strasner fell, and after he was discovered he died en route to the hospital, the Buffalo News reports.
Staff at the nursing home told police they had checked on Strasner just a half-hour before the worker encountered his body in the parking lot, according to the newspaper.
Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo told NBC New York that Strasner’s window was only supposed to slide open about seven inches. But there was a problem in the room: The tool used to keep windows from opening wider wasn’t there.
“We are looking at whether or not the nursing home was aware of that and how that device may have been removed,” Rinaldo told WBFO.
The county is launching an investigation into the death through its senior services commissioner, WKBW reports. No criminal investigation into the death is currently underway, Rinaldo told the TV station.
Strasner was the only resident in the third-floor room at the facility, police said.
Former neighbors of Strasner, who had lived in Buffalo for some time, described him as handy, kind and an avid gardener.
“He was a scrapper and he did home repairs,” Marlon Redmond, a former neighbor of Strasner, told the Buffalo News. “He was a nice enough guy who cared about people … He grew turnip greens and cabbage and would share his gardening skills with others.”
Amelia Sims, who was Strasner’s landlord years ago, said he didn’t have children. She told the Buffalo News that Strasner enjoyed playing his guitar and singing, as well as riding his bike.
“It's a shame,” Sims told the newspaper. “He was a very nice guy.”
New York state’s health department told Spectrum News that department staff are “aware of the tragic incident and are investigating, but cannot comment any further.”