SH man found dead in pond had asked for help at hospital previous night

Audrey Caro

Officials are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a Sweet Home man on Feb. 24 at Best Western Premier Boulder Falls Inn.

Alfred Andrew Nichelson, Jr., 56, was seen in the emergency room of Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital on the night of Feb. 23.

The next morning his body was found across the street, submerged in the pond at the hotel.

The Lebanon Police Department is still investigating the death, said Lt. Scott Bressler, but officials do not suspect foul play.

Because the incident is still under investigation, LPD did not release a police report before The New Era went to print Tueseday morning.

LPD and Lebanon Fire District personnel arrived at Boulder Falls at 7:58 a.m., in response to a report from grounds-keeping employees. Nichelson’s body appeared to have been submerged for several hours, according to an LPD press release.

According to an LPD call log, Nichelson called from SLCH at 10:31 p.m. on Feb. 23, upset that SLCH staff would not transport him to Good Samaritan hospital in Corvallis.

An officer spoke with the nursing supervisor who said that Nichelson had been “seen, treated and discharged” and they were not able to help him further, Bressler said.

SLCH wanted to have Nichelson trespassed but no trespass notice was issued, he said.

Nichelson was “threatening to OD on pain pills if not admitted into LCH,” according to the Feb. 23 log entry.

The State Medical Examiner is conducting a toxicology report but Bressler said he did not know when LPD would receive the results.

Nichelson was given options before choosing to admit himself for a mental evaluation, according to the log. Since no report was taken at the time, it is unclear whether Nichelson was counseled by a police officer or hospital staff.

Marty Cahill, CEO of Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital, said he could not comment on patients, living or dead.

He did speak in general terms about SLCH’s emergency room procedures.

“If a person receives an evaluation from a provider and is cleared from the emergency room, they would be discharged,” Cahill said.

When asked about patients who come in for mental health issues and threaten self-harm, Cahill said any number of things can happen.

If a patient is violent, staff will call the police.

For mental health issues, hospital staff usually calls Linn County Mental Health.

“Everyone is evaluated for their needs when they show up,” Cahill said.

Nichelson was listed as a transient out of Sweet Home in a statement about the death released to the press.

Sweet Home Police Chief Jeff Lynn said his department has had contact with Nichelson dating back to 1987. SHPD has his last listed address as 1072 Turbyne Rd., #9.

SHPD had more than 50 interactions with Nichelson during that period, the last of which was welfare check on Feb. 23.

At 3:51 p.m. on Feb. 23, SHPD responded to an anonymous report of a man with a walker lying in the roadway near 12th and Nandina Streets. The responding officer contacted Nichelson, who was at that time on the sidewalk. A neighbor in the area said she would take Nichelson to her house and care for him.

Nichelson was a registered sex offender, with five convictions in 1991 and one conviction in 2008, according to the State of Oregon Sex Offender Registry.

Police are still seeking Nichelson’s family members.

Anyone with information related to this case is asked to contact Det. Justin Bach at (541) 451-1751, ext. 4328.