Garner, N.C. — The family of a man who was found dead Monday after walking away from an assisted living home in Garner says that his caregivers failed to monitor him.
Authorities recovered the body of 62-year-old Dallas Sherwood Stevens around 10:30 a.m. in a small pasture just off N.C. Highway 50 near Timber Drive.
They have not yet determined a cause of death, and the case is still under investigation.
Garner police said Stevens walked away from Aversboro Assisted Living, about a mile away, around 8:15 a.m. Sunday. That prompted state authorities to issue a Silver Alert to notify the public about his disappearance.
A spokeswoman for the facility said that residents are allowed to leave and return on their own but are supposed to sign in or out when they do. Stevens did not sign out, authorities said.
"As soon as we realized he was gone without signing out, we immediately began looking for him and immediately alerted the Garner police," said facility spokeswoman Deborah Meyer.
Stevens' family said he suffered from dementia, congestive heart failure, diabetes and other health problems. They said he was so weak that he had trouble walking and it would have taken him a long time to get off the property.
"He doesn't walk well enough to be missing," his sister, Lonnie Walker, said Tuesday. "He walked like a 90-year-old man on a cane."
Stevens had only been at Aversboro since last Thursday, his family said. They are awaiting the results of an autopsy report to decide whether they'll take legal action.
The state Department of Health and Human Services is also investigating whether the facility did anything wrong.
The family believes his caregivers were negligent.
"Due to his medical and mental status, they should have been monitoring him every two to four hours, so we find them totally responsible for his death," said Ernest Stevens, Dallas Stevens' nephew.
"They knew all his conditions, so we find them negligent for not providing him with safety, quality of life and quality of care," Ernest Stevens added.