Russian poison victim no longer critical, speaking with police

By Susan McFarland  |  July 11, 2018 at 8:11 AM
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July 11 (UPI) -- The man exposed to a Russian-made nerve agent is no longer in critical condition and is speaking with police as they try and find the source of the poison, officials said Wednesday.

Hospital staff said Charlie Rowley, 45, made progress overnight.

"His condition is now serious, but stable," said Lorna Wilkinson, director of nursing at Salisbury District Hospital. "Our staff will continue to work hard to provide the care that Charlie needs. Charlie still has some way to go to recover, but the progress we've seen so far gives us cause for optimism."

Rowley became ill after he and Dawn Sturgess were poisoned June 30 by the same substance that sickened former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter in March. Sturgess, 44, died Monday.

A statement by police said investigators briefly spoke with Rowley and will speak with him more in the coming days to try and establish how he and Sturgess came to be contaminated with the nerve agent.

"Any contact officers have with Charlie will be done in close consultation with the hospital and his doctors. We will not be providing further commentary around our contact with Charlie," the statement said.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, Britain's top anti-terror officer, said Wednesday it was still not possible to link the latest poisoning with the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal but said he found it highly unlikely there was not a link to the attack.

Basu said 100 detectives are working on the investigation, which is focused at Sturgess' residence in Salisbury, Rowley's address in Amesbury and an area in the Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury.

Detectives ruled out a bus the pair traveled in Friday night, but are still examining a red Transit van that Rowley rode in Saturday.

On Monday, police seized a car a residential street in Swindon, about 40 miles away from the original investigation site.

Sally Davies, Britan's chief medical adviser, said the threat to the public is low but reinforced warnings to residents of Salisbury and Amesbury against touching stray containers, syringes, needles, cosmetics or similar objects.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal became seriously ill but have both recovered. Police opened a murder investigation into the death of Sturgess.

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