Death of teen found in hotel freezer ruled an accident

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CHICAGO — The death of a 19-year-old whose body found in a walk-in freezer at a hotel near Chicago after a night of drinking has been ruled an accident, the Cook County Medical Examiner said Friday.

Kenneka Jenkins’ cause of death has been deemed to be hypothermia due to cold exposure, the medical examiner said.

Alcohol and topiramate, a medication used to treat epilepsy and migraines that Jenkins was not prescribed but which was found in her system, were “significant contributing factors” in her death. Her blood alcohol level was .112 — significantly higher than the .08 figure used to determine that a drinker is too drunk to drive.

“When combined, the effect of either or both drugs is enhanced. Topiramate, like alcohol, can cause dizziness, impaired memory, impaired concentration, poor coordination, confusion and impaired judgment,” the medical examiner said in the statement.

Jenkins entered an unused kitchen at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, Ill., about 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 9, video surveillance shows. Her body was found in the walk-in freezer 21 hours later, investigators said.

No one was seen entering the kitchen area with Jenkins and there’s no evidence there was any kind of altercation prior to her death, the ME said. The autopsy revealed no evidence of any so-called date-rape drugs and “no other evidence of exterminal or internal trauma.”

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