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Woman may have accidentally killed herself after airport bust

  • Story Highlights
  • Carol Ann Gotbaum may have accidentally strangled herself, police said
  • Accident might have happened when she attempted to free herself of handcuffs
  • She was arrested Friday for disorderly conduct at Phoenix airport, police said
  • Police say she was "yelling and screaming" and running through the terminal
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(CNN) -- Phoenix police were investigating Sunday how a 45-year-old woman died over the weekend while in police custody at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport.

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Carol Ann Gotbaum, in an undated family photo, may have accidentally strangled herself while in custody.

Carol Ann Gotbaum may have accidentally strangled herself while trying to get out of her handcuffs, Phoenix Police Department spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said Saturday.

"According to investigators, it appeared as though Ms. Gotbaum had possibly tried to manipulate the handcuffs from behind her to the front, got tangled up in the process, and they ended up around her neck area," he said.

Witnesses told police that Gotbaum was "yelling and screaming" and running through the terminal Friday. She was arrested for disorderly conduct.

While handcuffed, the New Yorker became "disruptive" and she was taken to a holding room, where she was left alone, Hill told CNN affiliate KTVK.

Investigators said officers went to check on her five to 10 minutes later. Police policy requires that be done every 15 minutes.

Finding Gotbaum "unconscious and not breathing," Hill said, officers performed CPR.

"Sometime during the time she went into custody, she went into medical distress," he said.

Gotbaum was the mother of three young children and the daughter-in-law of longtime New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum.

Betsy Gotbaum called Carol Ann Gotbaum "a wonderful, wonderful person" and a great mother. She said the family was dealing with the situation "the best way we can."

A spokeswoman for the Maricopa County medical examiner said an autopsy would be conducted Monday morning. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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