According to an article in the Buffalo News by Lou Michael who is a crime reporter who has received several journalism awards, a man died after falling 34 feet to a parking lot after trying to climb a rope out of his window. The article reports that the 87 year old man died trying to escape the Emerald South Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, in Buffalo, NY. The article states:
William Strasner, whose death Monday morning appears to be accidental, had used a rope of bedsheets and clothing in an attempt to lower himself when he fell about 34 feet into a parking lot at Emerald South Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Buffalo Police Capt. Jeffrey Rinaldo said.
Strasner, a longtime Buffalo resident, apparently was trying to escape Emerald South at 1175 Delaware Ave. He was discovered lying in the facility’s parking lot at 6 a.m. by an employee. Strasner died in an ambulance while en route to a hospital.
The article describes a horrific situation where the safety locks on Mr. Strasner’s window was not functioning properly. The article states that the Buffalo Police Captain reported that:
The sliding window in Strasner’s room was only supposed to open 7 inches, Rinaldo said. A nut-and-bolt system was supposed to prevent the window from opening wide enough for a person to get out of it. Homicide detectives, the captain said, are investigating why the window did not function properly.
According to the article, the Buffalo Homicide team will be working with the agency that oversees and regulates nursing homes. Sadly, the article also reports that the victim had little or no family in the area, so he had no one to check on him to make sure he was being properly treated at the nursing home or if his mental health was being properly addressed.
If your loved one is in a nursing home and has been known to wander or attempt to escape, it is so important for you to check on them. Not just physically, but to also check in with the nursing home’s administration to see what measures and protections they are providing to keep your loved one safe.
The article reports on what Mr. Strasner’s friends said of him:
Strasner’s former landlady, Amelia Sims, said he used to play guitar and sing spiritual songs when he lived on Herman Street more than a decade ago. He didn’t have a car; he rode a bicycle everywhere. Strasner had no children, she said.
“It’s a shame. He was a very nice guy,” Sims said of Strasner.
“He was a scrapper and he did home repairs. I never saw him with any relatives,” said Marlon Redmond, a former neighbor of Strasner when he resided in the 100 block of Herman Street. “He was a nice enough guy who cared about people.”
Redmond said Strasner had maintained a small vegetable patch in the yard at the Herman Street house. “He grew turnip greens and cabbage and would share his gardening skills with others,” Redmond said.
When people go to nursing homes it is the nursing home’s explicit and sole responsibility to keep them safe. Residents can be at significant risk for elopement when they experience:
- Agitation, anxiety, boredom, or stress
- Disorientation to surroundings
- Cognitive issues affecting judgment, such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease
The resident’s own past behavior can be a red flag or warning sign for elopement, too, such as prior wandering off that did not lead to injury. If someone has eloped but been recovered safely, that means they are at risk of elopement and that risk must be addressed by the nursing home.
Disorientation can result from cognitive changes, issue, or (frequently) when they have just recently moved into the nursing home. The first few weeks after moving in are a frequent time for elopement, whether due to disorientation, change in setting, or the desire to return to their prior home. Nursing home staff must evaluate and monitor residents during this time to prevent residents from wandering out of the unit or facility and being injured.