CLEVELAND — A former group home worker has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and endangering children after a 13-year-old in her care drowned in Lake Erie in July, 2018.
A state investigation found 37-year-old Christina Coleman left Shaud Howell and two other teens unsupervised at Edgewater Beach July 6, 2018 after lifeguards had left for the day. Howell, who didn’t know how to swim, drowned. His body was found two days later north of Perkins Beach.
Investigators found that swimming at Edgewater was prohibited that day because of hazardous conditions.
Coleman was accused of leaving the teens unattended for more than two hours that evening. Police say one of the teens used a cell phone to call Coleman after they realized Howell was missing.
Coleman was fired from Quality Care Residential Homes after the drowning. The home’s owner, Desmond Johnson, told 5 On Your Side Investigators that Coleman did not have permission to take the teens to the beach that night. However, an investigation by Ohio Department of Job and Family services, which oversees group homes in the state, found it wasn’t the first time staff took children to Edgewater to swim and failed to monitor and supervise the kids.
In exchange for her guilty pleas, prosecutors dropped a misdemeanor count of endangering children against Coleman. She faces up to 11 years in prison when she’s sentenced next month.
In response to Coleman’s guilty pleas, attorney Brian Eisen who represents Howell’s family issued this statement to News 5:
“Shaud Howell’s life was cut short because of the recklessness of those entrusted with his safety. Ms. Coleman’s guilty plea is a step in holding accountable those who betrayed Shaud. But it is only a first step. A trial would have included a full recounting of the betrayal. Now that recounting will be delayed, but Shaud’s full story eventually will be told. The group home, its owners -- and perhaps others, too – still must be held to account.”