Man causes ricin scare at Olympia hospital

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said a patient admitted to taking the poison ricin inside Providence St. Peter Hospital Wednesday evening, potentially putting dozens of people at risk.

“This is a public safety concern. When you go to the ER you might expect to catch the flu, you don’t expect to be exposed to ricin,” said a man who was inside the hospital at the time of the incident.

The man asked to keep his name private because he’s worried about his family member, who’s still hospitalized.

“(Hospital workers) said there was potentially an exposure in the ER to ricin,” he said. “They told us to watch out for difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, fever.”

The Sheriff’s Office said the incident began around 8 p.m. Wednesday. An 18-year-old Olympia man called medics because he wasn’t feeling well. When medics responded to his home, they had no idea the man was making ricin.

Neighbors on the block were also in the dark.

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“It’s a scary situation. You don’t know if he’s going to leave it in the mailbox or anything, or if any of us could be exposed to that,” said Dave Conn.

Ricin is a highly toxic compound found in castor beans. Click here for more information.

“It’s scary, it’s really scary, there’s a lot of kids in the area that are younger,” said Stephanie Conn.

Deputies said the man admitted to hospital workers he started feeling sick while making ricin at his house and that he brought some with him to the ER.

The FBI is now handling the investigation.

Officials sent KIRO 7 a statement regarding the incident:

“The FBI responded shortly before 11 p.m. night to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, WA, to learn more about the contact of an individual with a possibly suspicious material. The FBI transported the material to the Washington Department of Health’s public health lab for testing.”

Hospital workers said there is not an immediate concern for people who were inside the hospital at the time. They plan to follow up with people who were in the ER.