Caregiver charged after patient with developmental disabilities goes outside, suffers hypothermia

AKRON, Ohio - A Summit County caregiver is facing charges after a 22-year-old man with developmental disabilities went outside unattended and suffered hypothermia.

According to an incident report from the Summit County Sheriff's Office, the man requires visual and audio supervision. 

However, on Dec. 27, the man left 53-year-old Benita Wilson's home while she wasn't there. He was later found by Akron police and transported to a local hospital for treatment. According to the police report, the man suffered from hypothermia. The National Weather Service reports the high was 15 degrees that day. 

On Jan. 23, Wilson admitted that she was not at the home, but rather working another job, according to the police report. She was arrested and charged with patient endangerment.

The sheriff's department tells News 5 Wilson is an independent provider and doesn't work an agency, but receives her certification from the state.

According to the Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board, Wilson was first certified by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) to provide services in Summit County in 2008.

Prior to the recent allegation of neglect, she provided services to two individuals, according to the board.

The State has already. suspended Wilson's certification. If she's convicted on her charges, she will lose her license forever.

The board issued the following statement to News 5 regarding the case:

We recently learned of allegations of neglect involving an independent disability service provider that put an individual’s health and safety at risk.  Our immediate concern was to take necessary steps to ensure the individual’s health and safety.
We take very seriously our duty to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect.  Because of our partnership with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office we were able to quickly initiate a criminal investigation and will continue to work with law enforcement.
Ohio’s laws provide safeguards for individuals with developmental disabilities which prohibit anyone convicted of such crimes to provide direct care services.  Our partnership with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office is pivotal to ensure those we serve have access to quality providers of their choosing in Summit County.

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