Woman’s death leaves family stunned
A Depauw woman who may have been more depressed and desperate than anyone realized, drank hydrochloric acid last Tuesday evening in bitter cold weather in the woods near Rothrock’s Mill on Blue River. She died several hours later at University of Louisville Hospital.
Linda Lou Routh Moore, 57, was pronounced dead at 6:51 a.m. last Wednesday by Jefferson County (Ky.) Deputy Coroner Robert Jones after valiant attempts by U of L Emergency Room doctors to keep her alive. Her heart rate first elevated and then plummeted. The official cause of death was ingestion of hydrochloric acid, Jones said.
Moore was a housewife, mother and former bank teller for many years at Old Capital Bank and Trust Co. in Corydon and later Union Planters in New Salisbury.
‘She just snapped,’ her husband of 34 years, David Moore, said Friday. ‘She wouldn’t hurt a flea. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine something like this would happen.’
He said his wife had been hospitalized for depression around Thanksgiving but seemed to have been getting better. She had had three serious cancer operations followed by chemotherapy in the past five years, he said. Her last surgery was in April.
Linda was in church the previous Sunday and had gotten no bad news recently, Moore said.
The family became concerned about Linda around dinner time Wednesday when she failed to come home. Moore said he last talked to his wife about noon that day. She also talked with one of their daughters about 1 p.m., but no one sensed anything was wrong.
Linda took her husband’s pickup truck late Tuesday afternoon, parked it near Thompson’s Chapel UMC Church and took a container of hydrochloric acid with her into the woods. She walked half a mile or more into dense, isolated woods, to within 20 feet of Blue River, not far from Rothrock’s Mill. She drank household cleaner called The Works.
Moore said he came home from work about 4 p.m. When Linda failed to come home by 6 or 6:30, the family called the police, and they and friends started looking for her. They found Moore’s truck at Thompson’s Chapel parking lot about 7. County police and volunteer firefighters from Palmyra and Ramsey and county police joined the search in rough terrain northwest of Thompson’s Chapel.
Linda was found about 9:15 p.m. when someone heard her moan twice, said her pastor, the Rev. Webster Oglesby of Lincoln Hills Christian Church in Corydon. Harrison County Police Officer Anthony Mills said she was conscious and recognized her rescuers.
She prayed with her pastor and asked her family to forgive her. Oglesby said she told the rescuers what she had drunk (they found the container nearby), but she did not say why she tried to take her life. Moore said later he had no idea why she went into the woods. No note was found. Although she had been treated for depression before, she had never talked about taking her life, her husband said.
Moore said it took rescuers about 1-1/2 hours to get her out of the woods. He couldn’t help with the rescue because he is recovering from major heart surgery. Oglesby said they carried Linda in blankets up a steep hillside in the dark, transferred her to a rescue basket when the EMTs arrived, and then onto a fire truck when it met the rescue party on an old logging trail. At Thompson’s Chapel, Linda was placed in an ambulance and taken to U of L.
Moore and Oglesby said the rescuers did everything they could to help Linda.
‘It was a wonderful outpouring of care and concern,’ Oglesby said.
Swarens Funeral Home in Ramsey was filled with mourners Saturday afternoon for the funeral. In his eulogy, Oglesby said God gave Linda ‘a great gift, the gift of time,’ time to talk with family before she died. She was generally calm and only complained of an aching stomach, Oglesby said.
The pastor commiserated with those at the funeral. ‘Will we grapple with the ‘Why?’ Yes. Will we understand her untimely death? Not now.’
Linda Moore had retired on disability five years ago after 34 years with Old Capital Bank and then with Union Planters. She was also a member of Ramsey-Spencer Grange 2215.
David Moore is director of transportation for Blue River Services Inc. He worked for 20 years at Heth-Washington Grade School, from 1969 to 1989. The last 17 years he was principal. He also coached basketball there. Now, he is volunteer coach for the sixth grade boys at North Harrison Upper Elementary School.
‘We are so grateful to the neighbors, our friends, the EMTs, the sheriff’s department and the volunteer fire departments,’ Moore said.
‘Linda Moore was a very good ambassador in this county all her life,’ Oglesby said. ‘She never raised her voice, never spoke a harsh word, and never got mad at anybody,’ he said.
A mutual friend, Sissy Fowler, told the minister, ‘When I moved into this county, it was Linda who made me feel welcome. I’ll never forget that.’
Linda Moore was born Dec. 27, 1946, in New Albany. Her parents were the late Eli Buford and Mary Ellen Leffler Routh. She is also preceded in death by a granddaughter, Melody Grace Shumate.
Besides her husband, she is survived by their two daughters, Melissa Dawn Shumate of New Salisbury and Melanie Denise Nevitt of Depauw; a brother, Edward S. Routh of Louisville, and three grandchildren.
The funeral was Saturday afternoon at Swarens Funeral Home in Ramsey. The organist was Judy Albin. Pallbearers were Robert Nevitt, Timothy Shumate, Clifford and Timothy Gutknecht, Roy and Steve Leffler, Brian Churchill and Jon Howerton.
Burial was in Loudon’s Chapel Cemetery near Depauw.
Most people who suffer from depression don’t get help
Nearly 18.8 million Americans over the age of 18 suffer from major depression. Suicide, closely linked to depression, is the third leading cause of death in 10-to-24-year-olds, says the National Institutes of Mental Health.
However, most people with symptoms of depression never seek treatment. Left undiagnosed and untreated, depression can worsen, last for years and, in some cases, lead to suffering, perhaps even suicide.
WebMDHealth says, ‘Everyone at one time or another has felt depressed, sad or blue. Being depressed is a normal reaction to loss, life’s struggles or injured self-esteem. But sometimes the feeling of sadness becomes intense, lasting for long periods of time and preventing a person from leading a normal life.’
Depression that has these characteristics is a treatable medical condition called major depressive disorder, one of a number of depressive illnesses.
Signs and symptoms of depression are:
Loss of energy
Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
Loss of enjoyment from things that were once pleasurable
Difficulty making decisions
Increased need for sleep
Insomnia or excessive sleep
Unexplained aches and pains
Stomach ache and digestive problems
Decreased sex drive
Change in appetite causing weight loss or gain
Thoughts of death or suicide
WebMDHealth says, ‘If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression, seek your health care provider’s advice for treatment or referral to a mental health professional.’