A woman died of cardiac arrest at a Largo restaurant on Wednesday

The owner of a popular Largo restaurant which remained open while awaiting help from authorities after a customer died of cardiac arrest said on Friday he was not sure it was the right decision not to not close.

“It’s just a tragic situation,” said Fred Rosenthal, 80, whose restaurant, Jaspers, has quickly become the target of online misinformation in recent days as social media scrutiny has intensified.

Rosenthal said the restaurant manager did not want to start any rumors or cause panic in the restaurant, so staff continued to serve customers as part of the building was closed and the woman’s family got involved. with emergency medical workers, police and a funeral home. .

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Rosenthal said. “Hindsight is 20/20.”

Doctors were called to Jaspers just before 6 p.m. Wednesday after the woman, whom authorities have not identified, was found unconscious in the restroom, officials said. Efforts to resuscitate the woman were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead just before 6.40pm.

Minutes later, Prince George’s County police were called to the restaurant to investigate the death, department spokesman Brian Fischer said, but foul play was not suspected. Authorities at the scene in Jaspers notified the Maryland Chief Medical Examiner’s Office at 7:12 p.m., Fischer said.

A spokesperson for the medical examiner said state officials dismissed the case because it did not meet the bureau’s criteria, which do not include deaths from natural causes that raise no further suspicion. The woman’s body was returned to her family, police said, and then removed by a private funeral home about two hours later.

Fischer said officers remained at the restaurant until the funeral home left.

Jaspers customers continued to come and go from the crowded restaurant until the establishment closed dinner service for the evening.

Subsequent social media posts sparked controversy over whether the decades-old community mainstay, billed online as an upscale casual American restaurant, should have closed as soon as the woman’s death occurred. been discovered.

The online dust prompted Rosenthal to apologize to any customers who felt the situation had been mishandled. But Rosenthal also said the criticism was hurtful to his staff and disrespectful to the woman’s family – all of whom he said were trying to navigate a difficult situation as best they could at the time.

The restaurant was packed with customers on Wednesday night when someone reported there was an unconscious woman in the toilet, he said. Restaurant management called emergency services, who determined she was deceased.

The women’s restroom was closed to other patrons, and those present at the scene directed all patrons to the men’s restroom for about two hours, Rosenthal said.

The restaurant owner was not in Jaspers that evening, he said, but at his home in Bethesda after visiting his son near Baltimore. Rosenthal said he received a call about the woman’s death around 11 p.m., nearly two hours after the woman’s body was removed by the funeral home.

The body area was closed with a drape, he said. Restaurant staff were told by police they weren’t allowed to do anything else until the coroner arrived, according to Rosenthal. Staff were under the impression the coroner would arrive quickly, but that did not happen, he said, adding that the situation ended around 9 p.m.

Rosenthal said he learned the family’s name from an incident report and plans to call them to share his condolences.

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