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2 residents of California assisted living facilities die after separate accidental poisoning incidents

A woman in the San Mateo facility, operated by Louisville-based Atria Senior Living, believed she was getting fruit juice when it turned out to be dishwashing liquid.

Two residents of Northern California assisted living facilities, operated by the same Kentucky-based company, died this week following similar accidental poisonings, officials and family said Friday.

Constantine Albert Canoun, a 94-year-old resident of the Atria Walnut Creek, died Wednesday after he swallowed cleaning fluid last week at the facility 25 miles northeast of downtown San Francisco, his son Dr. Cary Canoun told NBC News on Friday.

"It's like leaving a bottle of caustic cleaning agent in a daycare. It's the same kind of thing," the son said. "They don't know what it is and he didn't know what it is. He just saw something to drink and he drank it."

Canoun was living in a wing for dementia patients when he ingested the deadly substance, according to his son.

"Yes, obviously it's negligence," Dr. Canoun said.

A representative for Atria Senior Living, based in Louisville, Kentucky, said Canoun's death was "food related."

"On the night of August 23, 2022, a resident at the Atria Walnut Creek community appeared to suffer a negative reaction. Staff immediately contacted 911, alerted the resident’s family, and the resident was transferred to the hospital," according to a company statement.

"While it is uncertain what caused this reaction, at this time we believe it was likely food related. We were initially notified that the resident was doing well, but sadly yesterday he passed away. Our sincerest condolences are with his family and loved ones."

The senior citizen’s death is still being investigated by the Contra Costa County coroner and the agency still hasn’t determined a cause of death, a representative for the agency said Friday.

"Following investigation of this incident, we do not believe the resident ingested any cleaning fluid or any chemicals," the company said. "We are awaiting autopsy results, which may shed light on the official cause of death and what he may have consumed. Our hearts remain with the resident’s family and all who knew them."

Canoun's death followed the passing of a 93-year-old woman, who was also poisoned at an Atria facility in San Mateo, which is about 20 miles south of central San Francisco, authorities said.

Police officers were called to the facility on Sunday at 8:10 p.m. and learned that "three home care residents were hospitalized after ingesting toxic chemicals," according to a statement from the San Mateo Police Department.

"Tragically, one of the three residents, a 93-year-old female, was pronounced deceased at a local hospital," police added.

NBC Bay Area identified the San Mateo poisoning victim who died as Trudy Maxwell.

In the San Mateo incident, Atria admitted that the three patients were served dishwashing liquid rather than fruit juice.

“Our ongoing internal investigation has determined that a staff member filled a pitcher with dishwashing liquid with the intention of dispensing the liquid into the dishwashing machine," the company said.

"Another staff member picked it up mistaking it for juice and served it to three residents. One resident has since passed away, and our sincerest condolences are with the family."