October 31, 2012

USM to weigh changes after ill worker left in office 5 days

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – The University of Southern Maine will launch a review of campus procedures after an employee lay for five days on the floor of his office after suffering an apparent massive stroke.

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David Norton

Photo courtesy of Norton family

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David Norton, a senior communications officer for the University of Maine System, died Oct. 15 at Maine Medical Center, five days after he was found stricken in his locked office in an isolated wing of the Science Building on the Portland campus.

University police and Norton’s family believe he was alone in his office for five days over the Columbus Day weekend when campus was closed. He was found by a police officer after a coworker reported he missed a meeting. His car was parked on campus and was ticketed three times that weekend, but the car’s presence did not raise red flags with police because he was known to leave his car in the parking lot, according to university officials.

Linda Norton, David Norton’s mother, said Monday she asked the university to develop a policy that would require each office on campus to be checked daily by officers. There are about 1,300 offices on the university’s campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn.

University spokesman Bob Caswell said USM Police Chief Kevin Conger and Craig Hutchinson, chief student affairs officer, met for the first time Tuesday to discuss the incident.

“We’ve decided that when something like this happens, any organization should take a look at procedures and see if changes will be needed,” Caswell said. “(This is) certainly a situation that warrants a review to make sure we’re doing all we can to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff.”

Conger and Hutchinson will be involved with the review, but Caswell said he did not know how long the process would take or what recommendations may result.

“We’re going to take a good, hard look at procedures and see what, if any, changes can and should be made,” he said. 

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