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Homeless man died in lift from alcohol poisoning

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Homeless man died in lift from alcohol poisoning
Photo: APA
15:28 CET+01:00
After an autopsy, a 58-year-old homeless man who died of an apparent heart attack after laying for five hours in an elevator in a busy subway station in Vienna was found to have succumbed to alcohol poisoning.

Police sources told Austria's national broadcaster ORF on Wednesday that a preliminary autopsy showed the man, who died a few hours before he was discovered at 7 a.m. on the day after Boxing Day, had expired as a result of a blood alcohol level of more than four parts per thousand millilitres in his blood stream.

The body of the 58-year-old homeless man lay undiscovered in an elevator at the Volkstheater station of Vienna's U3 subway line for five hours, while passers-by stepped over his lifeless corpse to use the elevator. 

Neither the police nor the press office of Vienna's prosecutor was ready to confirm the results of the autopsy at this time, according to the Austrian Press Agency (APA).

The man's body was discovered by a cleaner upon his arrival in the station at 7 a.m. on December 27th, and despite the best efforts of emergency services, the man was pronounced dead while in the ambulance en route to hospital.

Two employees of the Wiener Linien, the operator of Vienna's metro, were fired soon after the incident, as their duties required them to carry out regular inspections, which were electronically monitored.

Additionally, several members of the public ignored the man's apparent distress, failing to alert emergency services or the station's personnel.  Police say they are now reviewing tapes of the incident, in order to identify people who may be subsequently charged with failing to render assistance.

The prosecutor's office said they expect to receive the autopsy results on Friday, when a decision will be made about possible charges.

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