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Ten years after son’s death, Carey says state still fails most vulnerable ⋆ Epeak . Independent news and blogs

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Michael Carey. (Casey Seiler, Times Union)

A decade after his autistic son died at the hands of a care worker, Michael Carey says the state still isn’t doing enough to protect its most vulnerable citizens.

Jonathan Carey was just 13 when he was smothered to death in February 2007 by Edwin Tirado, an aide at the Oswald D. Heck Developmental Center in Niskayuna, during an outing to Crossgates Mall. Tirado claimed he was attempting to restrain the boy.

“Jonathan suffered horrendously,” Carey said Wednesday in a Capitol press conference. “This death could have been prevented.”

Though the family settled their wrongful death suit against the O.D. Heck and the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities for $5 million in 2011, Carey has remained a relentless though sometimes controversial advocate for reforming state oversight of care workers and facilities for those under state care.

His efforts resulted in a new law requiring greater access to records of complaints about potential abuse cases. He has had less success pushing for measures that would expand the network of surveillance cameras in residential centers. Carey said cameras were the best deterrent to abuse, and the best resource to gather evidence when it occurs.

He said the system of state care was “just as deadly as it was in 2007.”

Tirado was found guilty of manslaughter in October 2007 and sentenced to 5 to 15 years in state prison. He’ll go before the parole board in September after having it denied on his first eligibility in 2012. Following the death, there were revelations that Tirado had worked excessive amounts of overtime at O.D. Heck.

Nadeem Mall, an aide who had driven the van in which Jonathan died, was sentenced to six months in county jail and probation.

On Wednesday, Carey said that his son had been “assaulted multiple times” while in state care.

Following a New York Times investigative series on the state’s porous disciplinary system for care workers, the state in 2012 created a new entity, dubbed the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, to address potential cases of abuse. That office, however, has been criticized as being virtually as opaque as its predecessor watchdog.

The Associated Press reported last fall that the Justice Center had no record of forwarding abuse or neglect reports to the state Medicaid inspector general, a legally required step that’s a key part of cracking down on problem facilities.

Here’s footage from Carey’s news conference:



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