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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Parents Sue Center for Son’s Death

ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) - A hospital aide killed a retarded boy by smothering him, after having hospitalized him three times by previous abuses, the child's parents say in Federal Court. And they say supervisors at the Oswald Heck Developmental Center in Schenectady repeatedly covered up Edwin Tirado's brutal attacks on Jonathan Carey, the last of which came three days before the 13-year-old's death.

The New York State Child Abuse and Maltreatment Register named Jonathan in a 2006 report of "suspected child abuse or maltreatment," and an investigation by the Developmental Disabilities Services Office found that the staff had failed to fully document the numerous injuries he sustained, according to the complaint. No staff member was ever disciplined as a result of the attacks.

While on an outing to the mall, Jonathan managed to open his seat belt because he wasn't properly buckled in. Tirado moved to the back of the van, pushed Jonathan's face down into the seat, sat on his chest and head and placed his hand over the boy's mouth. While another boy in the van yelled at him to stop, Tirado asphyxiated Jonathan until he was dead. It was Feb. 15, 2007. "On no fewer than three prior occasions, Tirado had physically assaulted Jonathan, causing such serious injury that Jonathan had to do to the hospital on multiple occasions," the complaint states. "OD Heck did nothing to redress or prevent this repeated physical abuse: no training, no discipline, no terminations, no reporting to proper authorities. Instead, supervisors at OD Heck covered up Tirado's brutal attacks, which occurred as late as three days before Tirado killed Jonathan."

Tirado said the boy suffered a seizure but an autopsy attributed the death to "homicide" caused by "cardio respiratory arrest due to compressive asphyxia."

Tirado was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and another aide who was present was convicted of criminally negligent homicide.

Jonathan's parents say the Heck Center's supervisors were negligent in not properly investigating previous abuses, and allowing Tirado to work more than 197 hours in the two weeks before Jonathan's death. They demand punitive damages for assault and battery, wrongful death and negligence. They are represented by Ilann Maazel with Emery Celli & Brinckerhoff of Manhattan.

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