**This story was 1st reported a couple of days ago...I looked at the woman's picture that was posted, and then I moved along. Today, I actually read the story. My heart hurts for this woman and her family. I thought the woman was terminally ill (or along the lines of that), and passed away at the airport (going by the title). I was wrong. AOL News, had posted the security video from the airport, which dodumented Mrs. Gotbaum's actions. I didn't feel right posting it. I will however, post a pic with her smiling.
I pray that Mrs. Carol Gotbaum, is finally resting in peace.
Life of Comfort, Pain Ends in Airport Cell
credits: AOL News, AP (edited for content by Ivent)
Last Nov. 1, Noah Gotbaum phoned his father and stepmother to say that he had just discovered his wife, Carol, drunk and passed out in their town house on West 95th Street. An ambulance, he told them, was rushing her to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.
He asked them to come watch his three young children, Ella, 7, Nathaniel, 5, and Tobias, 3. His stepmother, Betsy Gotbaum, who is the New York City public advocate, has been married to Victor Gotbaum, the former labor leader, for 30 years and has close relations with his children and grandchildren — particularly Noah’s children, who for the past few years have lived near her.Carol Gotbaum spent one night at the hospital.
Betsy Gotbaum saw her in the emergency room after she awoke. “I’m ashamed of myself,” Carol Gotbaum told her.The night marked the first knowledge Betsy Gotbaum had of her stepdaughter-in-law’s struggles with alcoholism and depression, she said in an extensive interview on Wednesday.On Sept. 27, Carol Gotbaum agreed to fly to Arizona and spend a month at Cottonwood de Tucson, an expensive but spare addiction-treatment clinic. Other, briefer stints in rehabilitation facilities had apparently failed.
The decision set in motion a chain of events that left Carol Ann Gotbaum dead at 45 and gave rise to a number of questions about her treatment at the hands of the police in Arizona.On Sept. 28, Ms. Gotbaum, traveling alone, was denied access to a connecting flight in Phoenix because boarding had been completed by the time she arrived at the gate. The police say they believe she had been drinking during the layover, and she protested in a way that they later characterized as “crying,” “hysterical” and “irrational.”
She was dragged to a holding cell at the airport, hands cuffed behind her back, was shackled to a bench, and was left alone, yelling.
A few minutes later, when she grew silent, officers looked in the cell and found Ms. Gotbaum unconscious with the shackle stretched across her neck. Attempts by the police and medical workers to revive her were unsuccessful.Behind the disagreement on what happened in that airport holding cell, and whether there was police negligence, is the quieter and no less devastating story of a wife and mother fighting her demons.
Even those who knew her well claim not to fully understand what may have set off the depression or the drinking her husband described to them. Rather than mourning quietly, the Gotbaums have hired a private investigator — a high-profile lawyer in Phoenix — and Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, a forensic psychologist from Pittsburgh who on Tuesday performed an autopsy independent of the one completed by the Maricopa County medical examiner.
The family have sought the counsel of Howard J. Rubenstein, the public relations expert.Above all, through their lawyer, Michael C. Manning, they have contradicted the version of events described by the Phoenix police and indicated that Ms. Gotbaum’s death could have been avoided if officers had responded differently.
The police, meanwhile, have made public security tapes that show a clearly distraught woman running amok in a concourse and resisting efforts to subdue her.
An Enviable Life
On the surface, Ms. Gotbaum’s existence had many elements of a comfortable life: a financier husband who runs a fund that invests money in Ukraine; three beautiful children; a brownstone on the Upper West Side; and the welcoming embrace of a large family with extensive roots and connections in New York.But Ms. Gotbaum spoke often of her unhappiness and about many things over which she despaired.
She was far from her own family in her native South Africa, and dislocated too from London, where she had met Noah and left behind friends, a grand flat in Maida Vale, and her career as a buyer for the House of Frasier, an English department store company.
She and her husband decided to take their two older children out of Rodeph Sholom, a private school, and the children began public school last month. But she worried that they were not getting enough attention there.Indeed, it was her desire to see them off to school that resulted in her missing a direct flight to Tucson and boarding a plane that would connect at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Her husband’s decision to let her travel alone — made initially, Betsy Gotbaum said, because of the plans to fly direct — took on catastrophic implications when she had to switch planes.
Friends who were supposed to meet her flight and escort her to the next one were delayed, and she ended up in an airport bar.After the episode on Nov. 1 last year — which Noah Gotbaum described to others as a “breakdown” and family members later came to refer to as a possible suicide attempt — Carol Gotbaum briefly participated in a therapy routine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt, but told relatives that she found it unhelpful. She went instead to Four Winds, a psychiatric hospital in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., for about a week, but her situation worsened.
“Carol is drinking too much,” her husband told friends and loved ones more than once, often adding that he was trying to get her to enter a program specializing in alcoholism. Betsy Gotbaum said that on one of the many walks they took together in Central Park this year, Carol told her: “I’m really down. I know my behavior is self-destructive.”
A Meeting at a Gym
Carol Stiger met Noah Gotbaum at a gym. At the time, he was working for Central Europe Trust, an investment concern. He held degrees from Amherst and Yale and, according to his mother, Sarah — Victor Gotbaum’s first wife — has “a large, gregarious personality — he was in a singing group in college.” Carol was gentle and elegant, an impeccable dresser with a very tailored style, Sarah Gotbaum said. She had grown up in Cape Town, where her father was a well-known retired commander of the South African Naval Diving School.She was particularly close to her father, Sarah Gotbaum said, and spoke of fishing trips on which the two of them would catch their breakfast.
Carol and Noah were married in 1995, at the Boathouse in Central Park.It rained heavily, but when fireworks erupted over the Great Lawn as part of an adjacent New York Philharmonic event, the groom’s stepmother, recently retired as the city’s parks commissioner, received undue credit.The couple returned to London to live. Noah was the last of Victor Gotbaum’s three sons to marry, and like his brothers he was marrying a non-Jew but would raise his children as Jews. “But Carol was the only one who converted to Judaism,” Sarah Gotbaum said. “She converted for Noah. She wanted to please him.”
Their first child was born prematurely — Sarah Gotbaum remembered a birthweight below three pounds — and spent the first month of her life in a neonatal intensive care unit in London. “The kids were going to the hospital every day to see her,” Betsy Gotbaum said.
Friends recalled Noah and Carol as a romantic couple who would surprise each other with jaunts to Paris or Prague. Bill Wallsgrove, a friend of the couple’s for more than a decade, said of Carol: “She was a complete charmer, one of those people, walks in a room and lights it up. We were all slightly jealous. She was a great, gregarious woman and a real catch.”
Mr. Gotbaum took a job in London with Level 3, an American telecommunications company that does business abroad. In 2002, he decided to move his family — by then they had a second child — to the United States, where he would establish a New York office for the company, which is based in Colorado.
Changes at Home
“She missed working,” Betsy Gotbaum said. “We talked about it a lot. Noah was flying to Denver every Sunday night, leaving Carol with the children, and coming back late in the week. Noah has always been a very involved parent, and Carol loved it too, but the routine was exhausting for her.”After the birth of their third child, Carol suffered from severe postpartum depression, Betsy Gotbaum said. She also came to feel unmoored after her father’s death — particularly because, a few years earlier, he had married his nurse. “She liked the nurse, but suddenly the house she grew up in was no longer hers,” Betsy Gotbaum said.Carol felt unsettled, those who knew her said.
“At first, they stayed in Noah’s brother Josh’s apartment, because he’s in Washington,” Sarah Gotbaum said. “The co-op board made them leave after a year.” Since that time, they had been renting the brownstone on West 95th Street.
“She felt transient,” Sarah Gotbaum said, and the problem reached a fever pitch earlier in September, when she was returning from a trip to Cape Cod she’d taken with Noah’s sister, Rachel. “Their landlord had put a ‘For Sale’ sign in front of the house.”The couple began seeing a counselor — possibly, relatives said, as part of an alcohol treatment regimen. “They were both anguished,” said Dr. Jacob Lalezari, a childhood friend of Mr. Gotbaum’s who has remained in close touch with him. “I had four or five very painful conversations with Noah over the last couple of years where he said he was trying to figure out how to help Carol.”
On Sept. 28, Carol Gotbaum arrived in Phoenix at 12:18 p.m. She had about 45 minutes before her connecting flight, and according to both the police and the Gotbaums’ lawyer, Mr. Manning, she may have had something to eat and drink. According to the police report, Officer Terri Klepper, who would eventually search Ms. Gotbaum, told investigators that she “smelled strongly of intoxicating beverage on her breath.”
The Final Hours
Ms. Gotbaum checked in at 1:05 for a 1:30 flight, according to the police report, but the plane was overbooked and her seat had already been given up. She phoned her husband on her BlackBerry, and returned to the ticket counter several times to complain.Around 2:30 p.m., Ms. Gotbaum asked about using another passenger’s ticket to get on a 2:58 flight for which she had been given a standby reservation — a man had apparently offered to give her his seat — and when she was refused, she exploded.
“She kept on yelling: ‘I’m not a terrorist. I’m a sick mother. I need help,’” said Omar Guerrero, who works at a sunglasses stand in the airport and saw the outburst. Ms. Gotbaum then took off down the concourse hallway.A security guard said he heard her yelling about her hatred of “American cops.”Another airport employee said he saw her kneel on the floor and bang her hands against it, then empty her purse. She hurled her BlackBerry, ran up an incline toward the security area, stopped, and began bending forward several times, flailing her arms and, according to the police report, screaming profanities.“She made eye contact; I saw sorrow,” recalled Mike Berg, an airport worker who was standing about 20 feet from her.Two airport security workers approached, but Ms. Gotbaum resisted. A police officer walked up to her and, he later said, tried to calm her down. Two more officers arrived, and all three of them restrained her.In the surveillance video, Ms. Gotbaum can be seen dropping to the ground — accounts vary as to whether she or the officers were responsible for this action — and soon her hands were cuffed behind her back. Even so, she stiffened her legs, forcing the police to pull her by her arms into a holding cell.Officer Daniel Fulton said Ms. Gotbaum’s behavior “ranged from verbally aggressive and resisting to crying.”
After she was shackled to a bench with the handcuffs behind her back, her cell door was shut.The police report says that she was in the room by herself for six to eight minutes before she was found unconscious. She was pronounced dead at 3:29 p.m.Sometime later, Noah Gotbaum phoned the airport communications center in Phoenix, still trying to find out where his wife was and to let the authorities know that she was “alcohol abusive” and suicidal.“The police don’t really understand what they’re dealing with right now,” he said, according to transcripts of three calls he made.Later, he added, “They’re playing with real fire right now.”