Thursday, August 5, 2010

PA: Bucks Caregiver Faces Criminal Neglect Charges in Autistic Man's Heat Death

"Everyone was out of the van."

Time and again, when Bucks County investigators asked how a helpless, autistic man had been left to die last month in a sweltering, parked vehicle, that had been his caregiver's response, court records say.

She was wrong - criminally so, police have now concluded.

On Tuesday, authorities charged that caregiver, Stacey Strauss of Philadelphia, with fatally neglecting Bryan Nevins, a 20-year-old client at Woods Services, a Langhorne care facility.

Nevins' body was found July 24 in a van she had parked outside Woods Services, where he had been left behind on a 97-degree afternoon.

Severely autistic, Nevins was so childlike that he was never supposed to be out of his caregiver's view, court records say. Yet he was left in the van for five hours after returning from an excursion to Sesame Place.

"Mr. Nevins' death was not simply a tragic accident," said a statement issued by Bucks County District Attorney David W. Heckler and Middletown Township's acting public safety director, Patrick McGinty. "Rather, his death resulted from the criminal failure of the defendant to discharge her assigned responsibilities to Mr. Nevins."

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