This week, as members of the design industry packed into Chicago’s Merchandise Mart for the 50th annual NeoCon trade show and convention—the largest national fair dedicated to commercial and contract design–one attendee suffered fatal head injuries after a fall on the show floor, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Jacqueline Albertine, 57, was pronounced dead the following afternoon, as her family removed her from life support at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. After attempted surgery, medical professionals determined her condition too severe to remedy; an autopsy performed on Wednesday determined the death an accident, by way of blunt force injuries to her head.
The shocking news of her unexpected death has called into question the medical and safety procedures administered by the trade show, which is held at Merchandise Mart each year. Visiting from Miami Beach, Florida, Albertine had been hanging on a swing-seat installation by the luxury design manufacturer David Edwards at the company’s third-floor showroom when she fell backward.
According to colleagues who were present, the fall occurred at around noon on Monday, but officials from the Chicago Fire Department did not arrive to the scene until about 12:30 p.m. Speaking with the Tribune, Shawn MacMullin, president of Corporate Design Choice in Miami, where Albertine had been employed for 14 years, questioned the event’s safety practices, suggesting prompt attention may have saved her life. Adding to the confusion and chaos amid the packed convention, authorities had initially indicated that the incident had occurred on Tuesday.
A representative from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed to the Tribune that it has begun an investigation into the fatality, but noted that a conclusion could take months.