Saturday, October 13, 2007

BRENDAN BLUM: Teen boy found dead at treatment center

By Rebecca Palmer
June 29, 2007

DRAPER — Workers at the residential youth treatment center Youth Care of Utah found a 14-year-old California boy dead inside their facility Thursday morning.

The boy had been suffering with bowel and stomach problems, so had been separated from other youths at the home, according to Draper Police Sgt. Gerry Allred. The sick teen had been placed in a room and was allowed to sleep on his own mattress.

When workers with the private company checked on the boy early Thursday, they found he had died.

Police were called and responded to the Horizon House facility near 12600 Minuteman Drive at 7:07 a.m.

An autopsy was performed Thursday afternoon, Allred said, and authorities were working to complete an investigation into the death.

They will not rule out the possibility of filing criminal charges until their investigation is complete, Allred said.

Youth Care of Utah declined to be interviewed by the Deseret Morning News on Thursday but promised to release information as it becomes available. The company's Web site says the company accepts students between 11 and 18 years old and treats them for behavioral, mental and substance abuse problems.

The company employs two registered nurses and a psychiatrist in addition to several therapists and counselors and is licensed by the state to house up to 43 students at a time.

On July 30, 2004, a 16-year-old boy was found hanged in a youth treatment home in Syracuse. The 110-bed facility where he had been staying was ordered by the state to take "corrective action" in the case, which was determined to be suicide.

A second treatment home was disciplined by the state in 2004 for operating outside of state regulations. The residential support center is currently licensed in Mount Pleasant, Sanpete County.