Saturday, October 13, 2007

Youth Center Workers Charged in Child's Death

October 11th, 2007
By Sarah Dallof

Two workers at a Draper center for troubled youth have been charged in the death of a 14-year-old boy.

According to court documents obtained by KSL News, the death of 14-year-old Brendan Blum could have been prevented if two workers at the facility had called for medical attention.

Brendan was originally from Santa Barbara, Calif., and had Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism.

The Salt Lake District Attorney says that on June 27 he became violently ill, vomiting, losing control of his bowels and complaining of stomach pain. But the district attorney says despite the symptoms, workers Deborah Cole and Jorge Ramirez failed to notify the on-call nurse or contact a doctor.

Brendan was found dead around 7 a.m. An autopsy revealed he died of a small bowel infarction, a condition the medical examiner feels would not have been fatal if Brendan had received medical attention.

Cole and Ramirez are charged with felony abuse or neglect of a disabled child.
KSL News spoke today with the executive director of Youth Care. He commented on the charges, as did Draper police. "We are confident that a criminal prosecution ultimately will be found to be unjustified and unwarranted. In the meantime, we will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities and also to support our dedicated staff," director Trina Packard said.

Draper Police Sgt. Gerry Allred disagrees. "We're confident that these are the right charges and that, you know, hopefully this will bring something to the industry so that we don't keep having these things happen," he said.

Officials with the Utah Human Services Department say they moved to pull Youth Care's license right after the death, but the boy's mother says it took two months for any action.

The facility appealed the move, and while that's being decided, the center is still open and operating.

Cole and Ramirez have been summoned to appear in court on Nov. 20. If convicted, they each face up to five years in prison.