A Nobel Prize-winning chemist’s wife is dead while he has been located alive but confused 200 miles away from where they live.
Professor Ei-ichi Negishi, 82, and his wife Sumire Negishi, 80, were reported missing on Monday in Indiana but the following day police discovered the professor wandering along a road near the Orchard Hills Landfill in Illinois.
After organizing medical treatment for the professor, who was later hospitalized, Ogle County Sheriff’s Deputies then found Ei-ichi’s vehicle and Sumire’s body at the landfill, according to a press release from the department.
While authorities are investigating her death, they said foul play was not suspected. Sumire suffered from Parkinson’s disease.
Despite the details of what happened still being under investigation, family members released a statement to local news station, WTHR, saying the couple was trying to get to nearby Rockford International Airport and ran off the road when they got lost.
“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved wife and mother, Sumire Negishi, who was near the end of her battle with Parkinson’s. She was traveling with her lifelong partner and husband, Eiichi Negishi, who was apparently suffering from an acute state of confusion and shock,” the statement said.
“The car was stuck in a ditch and determined to be non-functioning and he appeared to be searching for help. The location and car condition were substantiated by the Ogle County Detective, Mr. Doug Lockard. Detective Lockard also confirmed that the first thing our father said was that he was trying to get to the airport for a trip.”
Ei-ichi won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. He works as a chemistry professor at Purdue University in Indiana.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels released a statement to WLFI sharing his condolences to the Negishi family.
“Purdue University and the world have lost a dear friend in the death of Sumire Negishi,” he said. “Throughout a lifetime of love and loyalty, she supported her husband in a career of tremendous contributions to science and to the teaching and training of subsequence generations of top scientists.”
He continued, “It appears that the Parkinson’s disease from which she has been suffering and the mental confusion that age can bring to the most brilliant minds combined to produce the recent tragic events. That these phenomena are so common does not make their consequences any less cruel.”
“All Boilermakers everywhere join the Negishi family in sadness at the loss of Sumire, who made so many of her own contributions to her husband’s works and to the vitality of our community.”