This post is the third one in the Carolina Squirrel series (which includes Carolina Squirrel and the Holy Grail and Carolina Squirrel and the Money Pit). Following well established Hollywood practices, this sequel is actually a prequel. This tells the tale that started it all; when a mild mannered squirrel began his career as adventurer – mystery solving, globe trotting Carolina Squirrel………..
A long, long time ago (1994), when the internet was still young and there were no blogs or Facebook or Twitter, there were Usenet newsgroups. As a poor, impoverished and over worked graduate student, I often had to be working in the lab late at night. When I had some free time, I would take advantage of the free computers and connect with the world through the Usenet newsgroups.
One particular newsgroup that I visited regularly was alt.skeptics. The prefix “alt” meant “alternative” but because of the type of people that it attracted, many jokingly called it “Anarchist, Lunatics and Terrorists”. But in fact, alt.skeptics was a great place to meet with fellow inquisitive souls and discuss, debate or debunk strange phenomena or sightings like UFOs, raining frogs, Bigfoot etc.
One night, after midnight, I logged on and joined an on-going online discussion about a most strange case. A real life mystery which was hot off the presses and here was an active intellectual debate going on and theories were being offered to explain the facts. It involved a woman who had just been emitted to a hospital with a green sheen on her skin and an odour that incapacitated her healthcare workers.
Suggestions were coming in from all over. I remember someone from New York suggested that the woman had been poisoned by pesticide sprayed by planes on orange groves. Within minutes, someone from the Palm Oil Research Centre in Malaysia replied saying that the symptoms do not fit pesticide poisoning which he was familiar with. And so it went on, this global investigation. It was very exciting being in the midst of all this. I can’t remember if I ever went back to the lab that night and so was born, my alter ego, Carolina Squirrel.
This strange occurrence and the poor unfortunate victim would eventually become known as the case of “Toxic Gloria”. The story goes as follows.
Gloria Ramirez was a thirty year old cancer patient who apparently suffered heart failure. She was taken by ambulance to Riverside General Hospital in California. In the emergency room, medical personnel began to treat her. Then strange things began to happen. Several people noticed a green, oily sheen on her skin and some detected a fruity odour coming from her mouth. At this stage a nurse tried to draw a blood sample with a syringe and she noted an ammonia like smell as she drew blood. Some of the medical crew claimed that they saw yellow crystals in the blood sample.
Shortly after that, the nurse who took the blood sample, fainted. The doctor treating Gloria and another trauma staff also fainted soon after. At that point, they decided to evacuate the entire emergency ward, with patients being wheeled out into the parking lot. A Hazmat team was called in and during all this confusion Gloria Ramirez passed away.
The doctor and one of the nurses continued to have problems after that including sleeping and breathing problems. The doctor was in intensive care for two weeks and she subsequently developed hepatitis and avascular necrosis in her knees.
For conspiracy and cover-up fans, there were the additional points of interests such as the fact that the syringe with the crystals in the blood sample went missing and the authorities initially did not want to release the body and then later while claiming they found nothing strange during autopsy, still wanted to insist that the body be buried in a hermetically sealed coffin.
Eventually, the family got a second autopsy done and again nothing unusual was found.
So what did you think happened to Gloria Ramirez?
In the end, we may never know what really happened but there is one theory with an unusual explanation that has received more acceptance than most but even it is at the edge of plausibility. If, you are curious, read about it here.