Senate Schedules Hearing On Death Of Jonathan Carey

Thomas P. Morahan

February 22, 2007

Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno announcedthat the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, chaired by Senator Thomas P. Morahan (R-C, New City) has scheduled a public hearing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of 13 year old Jonathan Carey. The hearing will be held on Monday, March 5, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. in Hearing Room A of the Legislative Office Building in Albany.

Jonathan Carey, an autistic teen who lived at the state-run O.D. Heck Development Center in Niskayuna, died last Thursday while being taken out in a van by two Center staff members who police say used an improper restraint on him. Questions have also been raised over possible mistreatment of Jonathan at a private school for autistic children. His parents were denied access to school records about their son.

The public hearing will examine a broad range of issues related to the care of individuals with mental disabilities including the use of restraints, training in the use of such restraints, and the availability of confidential medical and investigative records to parents and guardians.

"We want to determine and assess the adequacy of the staff training provided by OMRDD for personnel who care for children with developmental disabilities, as well as how children who exhibit behavioral episodes are treated," said Senator Morahan. "Parents and guardians must be reassured that agency staff are properly supervised and monitored, and that children placed in the care of a state-approved facility are safe and being treated properly."

"The shock and outrage over the tragic and senseless death of Jonathan Carey must be channeled into an effort to make sure this doesn’t happen to another person and another family," Senator Bruno said. "The Senate will hold a hearing to find out how and why the system may have failed Jonathan and what steps we can take to change our laws to protect people like Jonathan who depend on the care of others. We are going to get the bottom of this tragic situation and do everything we can to enact new laws to protect people who cannot protect themselves. We cannot and will not allow this to happen to another family."