A crowded restaurant in Prince George’s County, Maryland stayed open and continued to serve patrons after a customer attending a family reunion planning session died in the women’s bathroom Wednesday.
A family was dining at Jasper's Restaurant in the town of Upper Marlboro and had just paid the bill when one of them went to the restroom, one of the owners, Fred Rosenthal, told NBC News.
"She went to the women's room and when members of the family got up to leave and she hadn't come back, they went to check on her," Rosenthal said. "Someone found her unconscious, notified our employees and we jumped into the scene and called 911. Police arrived within minutes."
Officers with the Prince George's County Police Department responded to a crowded Jasper's Restaurant at 9640 Lottsford Court at approximately 6:40p.m. Wednesday evening to investigate, spokesperson Brian Fischer said.
Jasper's didn't close when the situation unfolded and continued to seat customers. A curtain barrier was put up around the women's restroom where the family gathered, and the men's restroom was converted into a unisex restroom.
"Hindsight is 20/20, we didn’t know it was going to take the coroner two hours to collect the body," said Rosenthal on the decision to leave the restaurant open. "If we did, we would’ve stopped seating people. We were trying to keep it as respectful as possible and not cause a scene."
The coroner's office arrived to the restaurant to remove the body at around 9 p.m., over two hours after police responded to the location, according to Rosenthal. The body was taken out of a side entrance so as not to disturb other diners. Jasper's stayed open until midnight Wednesday, continuing to seat diners until then.
The woman died of natural causes, according to the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Rosenthal has since met with members of the woman's family.
"They came in to celebrate and plan a family reunion and it ended in a terrible event," he said.