Local News

Two Residents Wander Away from Nursing Home, One Killed

Posted March 21, 1999

— A deadly accident over the weekend raises a serious question about security at nursing homes. Francisco Garcia, 67, walked away from a Durham nursing home Friday.

Police found his body on Stephens Lane early Saturday morning. He had been hit by a car and dragged more than 100 feet.

We hear about people leaving nursing homes all the time. Most are found alive, but why are they not noticed leaving?

The victim of the hit and run accident was a resident at the Durham Rest and Retirement Center. His caregivers did not know he had wandered away until police told them he had been hit by a car and killed.

State regulators are investigating the apparent breakdown in procedure that led to his death.

"Potentially there is a violation. It will depend on the condition of the resident, their mental state, whether they had some type of confusion," said Jim Upchurch.

"I left on my own. I didn't sign out," said resident Hubert Jackson.

Jackson walked away from a rest home in Clayton last week. He was missing for three days.

"I walked all night. I went to Garner, headed back to Raleigh, got lost and went in the woods and stayed all night," said Jackson.

"And I was very nervous for Mr. Jackson with his medical condition. And the fact he hadn't had any medications in three days," said Pauline Delaney, Jackson's guardian.

Delaney thinks Clayton Restful Manor did the best it could with a small staff and numerous residents.

State regulators say rest homes who know their patients might wander are supposed to take precautions like locking their doors.

"And, they're also supposed to have staff available to monitor residents' whereabouts during the day and night and have periodic checks on those who are prone to wandering," said Upchurch.

Police are looking for the hit and run driver responsible for the Durham man's death.

State regulators say the rest home in that case could face a fine of up to $10,000.

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