By Scott Hammers

The Bulletin

The family of a woman who died after being struck by a laundry cart at a Bend retirement community is suing the operators of the facility.

A tort claim filed Monday in Deschutes County Circuit Court by the heirs of Wilmetta June Cornell is seeking up to $2.3 million from Aspen Ridge Retirement Community, a retirement community and assisted-living facility east of Pilot Butte.

Cornell was 95 and had lived at Aspen Ridge for just over four years at the time of her death last fall.

On Sept. 10 of last year, Cornell was using a walker to make her way down a hallway at the facility when she was struck from behind by a laundry cart pushed by an employee of the facility, according to the lawsuit.

She fell on her left side and reported pain in her left hip and leg.

Aspen Ridge staff helped Cornell to her apartment, but after about three hours, she was in extreme pain and unable to get out of the chair in which she was sitting, the suit states. An ambulance took her to St. Charles Bend.

Two days after being stuck by the laundry cart, Cornell underwent surgery to her left hip at St. Charles Bend. Cornell became unresponsive the next day and experienced a drop in blood pressure, and she died several hours later.

The suit alleges negligence on the part of Aspen Ridge and its unnamed employee for failing to be aware of residents in the hallway of the retirement community.

Aspen Ridge Retirement Community executive director Bryan Carnahan issued a written statement Wednesday in response to the allegations, in which he wrote the company was “surprised and disappointed” to learn of the suit.

“Sometimes accidents and falls happen despite the diligent efforts of our caring and compassionate staff members. And, as a matter of normal protocol, we reported Mrs. Cornell’s fall to the appropriate state and local agencies which ruled out abuse and neglect on the part of Aspen Ridge staff,” the statement reads. “At Aspen Ridge, we will continue to strive every day to demonstrate our commitment to the safety and wellness of those who choose to make Aspen Ridge their home.”

The company has not formally replied to the complaint filed in Deschutes County Circuit Court, and no court dates have been set.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387,