Woman sickened by nerve agent Novichok in England dies: UK police

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died from her injuries in a hospital in Salisbury.

July 08, 2018, 9:01 PM

A woman who was exposed to the nerve agent Novichok in southern England has died, police announced Sunday.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, succumbed to her injuries in a hospital in Salisbury, according to the Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom.

“Today is the day we hoped would never come,” said Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard. “On behalf of all officers, staff and volunteers working for Wiltshire Police, I wish to pass on our condolences to the family and friends of Dawn at this terrible time. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and suffering they must be feeling, coupled with all the questions they need answer to.”

PHOTO: Investigators wearing protective suits, gloves and gas masks on Rollestone Street in Amesbury, southern England, July 6, 2018. The investigation is in connection with a British couple being exposed to the same toxin as a former Russian spy.
Investigators wearing protective suits, gloves and gas masks on Rollestone Street in Amesbury, southern England, July 6, 2018. The investigation is in connection with a British couple being exposed to the same toxin as a former Russian spy.
Chris J Ratcliffe/AFP/Getty Images

Authorities say Sturgess, along with her boyfriend, 45-year-old Charlie Rowley, became sick after they were exposed to Novichok on June 30.

The couple was admitted to the hospital in critical condition.

"This is shocking and tragic news. Dawn leaves behind her family, including three children, and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this extremely difficult time," said Neil Basu, assistant commissioner and head of UK Counter Terrorism policing.

PHOTO: Fire trucks and emergency response vechiles are parked outside a residential house in Amesbury, southern England, July 7, 2018, where a couple was exposed to the same nerve agent as the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal.
Fire trucks and emergency response vechiles are parked outside a residential house in Amesbury, southern England, July 7, 2018, where a couple was exposed to the same nerve agent as the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal.
Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images

Rowley's status has not changed, Basu added.

"The 45-year-old man who fell ill with Dawn remains critically ill in hospital and our thoughts are with him and his family as well," he said.

A preliminary investigation revealed Sturgess and Rowley were allegedly exposed to the military-grade nerve agent through a contaminated item that was linked to a March attack that poisoned ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury. Britain blames Russia for the attack, however, Russia has denied the allegation.

PHOTO: Sergei Skripal, a former colonel of Russia's GRU military intelligence service, looks on inside the defendants' cage at the Moscow military district court, Russia, Aug. 9, 2006.| Sergei Skripal's daughter Yulia Skripal seen in this undated photo.
Sergei Skripal, a former colonel of Russia's GRU military intelligence service, looks on inside the defendants' cage as he attends a hearing at the Moscow military district court on Aug. 9, 2006.| Daughter of former Russian Spy Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal is seen in this undated photo.
AP/Polaris

On Twitter, Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “appalled and shocked” by Sturgess’ death.

“I am appalled and shocked by the death of Dawn Sturgess, and my thoughts and condolences go to her family and loved ones,” May wrote on Twitter. “Police and security officials are working urgently to establish the facts of this incident, which is now being investigated as a murder.”

PHOTO: Police officers stand guard near barriers across Rollestone Street, outside the John Baker House Sanctuary Supported Living in Salisbury, southern England, July 8, 2018.
Police officers stand guard near barriers across Rollestone Street, outside the John Baker House Sanctuary Supported Living in Salisbury, southern England, July 8, 2018. The exposure of an apparently random British couple to the same nerve agent used against former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal has sent officials scrambling to discover the source of the contamination.
Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images

"The Government is committed to providing full support to the local community as it deals with this tragedy," she wrote in a second tweet.

Dozens of detectives are working on the investigation, which is being led by the Counter Terrorism Policing Network, as well as officers from the Wiltshire Police Department.

Authorities are still trying to determine if both instances of Novichok exposure are linked.

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