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Group home of teen who drowned is target of several investigations

13-year-old drowned during trip to beach
Posted at 6:01 PM, Jul 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-10 19:35:52-04

The group home where a 13-year-old boy was staying when he drowned last weekend is now the focus of at least three investigations.

Ohio's Department of Jobs and Family Services, Cleveland Metroparks and Cuyahoga County's Division of Children and Family Services all want answers about what's going on inside Quality Care Residential Homes.

According to investigators, a worker from the group home took Shaud Howell and two other teens to Edgewater Beach around 7 p.m. Friday.  

Howell and another teen played in the water for about an hour, then planned to head back to the beach.

Only the 16-year-old made it back. Howell's body was found by searchers Sunday. 

But could his death have been prevented?

Lifeguards ended their watch of the beach at 7 p.m., and according to an incident report, lake conditions were so rough firefighters "determined it would be too dangerous for divers to enter the water."

RELATED: Beachgoers, parents want more lifeguard oversight after 13YO boy found dead in Lake Erie

So where was the group home employee who was responsible for the three teens?

"From what I understand, not very far," said Desmond Johnson, Administrator of Quality Care Residential Homes. "Like, sitting on a hill from where the water was at.  I'm not for sure exactly, but I think maybe a few feet away, not too far."

According to investigators, the 16-year-old swimming with Howell had to use another teen's cell phone to "call the staff member in charge of the three boys."

News 5 asked Johnson why the teen would have needed to call the worker if she was nearby.

"There's still an investigation," Johnson said. "I mean, I'm just going by what reports we're getting too. Right now it's still under investigation."

Johnson says he feels bad about what happened, noting Howell had only been with the group home for about a week after he was placed there by county social workers.

Records show Quality Care Residential Homes, which runs two facilities, will receive $550,646 as part of its contract with Cuyahoga County to provide out-of-home placement and foster care services this year.

"We do a good job," said Johnson. "The county has been giving us business for a while now. We've always done a good job with their kids so I don't see a problem with it."

News 5 has requested state and local inspection records for Quality Care Residential Homes. So far, those documents have not been made available.