Friday, July 30, 2010

Inclusive education group protests at residential center over death of autistic man in hot van

From Bucks County Courier Times in Pa.:

Members of the Alliance for Inclusive Education held a protest at 2 p.m. July 29 outside the Middletown residential center for children and adults with disabilities where a 20-year-old man with severe autism died Saturday after he was left in a minivan.

In a press release, the group said it plans to place flowers in memory of Bryan Nevins (pictured) and attempt to interview staff as they enter and leave the building at 469 E. Maple Ave. to find out who is responsible for his death.

Nevins died of hyperthermia after he was apparently left inside the vehicle for more than five hours Saturday after an outing to Sesame Place.

"This story is appalling and we will not let it pass and fade quietly into the night," said Johnny Crescendo, one of the protest organizers. "Woods Services basically murdered this young man."

The group, a nonprofit Philadelphia alliance that promotes inclusion in education, will call for the state to close the center, Crescendo said, adding that about 25 people could show up for the protest.

The State Department of Public Welfare, which licenses the center, and local law enforcement have both initiated an investigation into Nevins' death. The center is conducting an internal investigation.

Two residential counselors who were responsible for the four clients, including Nevins, who went on the Saturday day trip have been suspended.

How Nevins, originally from Long Island, N.Y., was left inside the seven-passenger van after the trip to the theme park remains unclear.