News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 25, 2006

Lee Alan Bryant resident dies after walking away from nursing home

Tribune-Star staff report

Rockville — State and county officials are investigating the death of a man who walked away from a nursing home and was struck and killed by a car.

George Porter, 56, a resident of Lee Alan Bryant Health Care Facility in Rockville, walked barefoot onto U.S. 36 before the accident Sunday about 5:30 a.m.

The driver of the car, Eugene Miller, could not avoid hitting the man and will not be charged, police say. Witnesses told police Porter had been standing in the middle of the highway when struck, said Parke County Sheriff Charles Bollinger, who also talked to officials at the nursing facility.

“They informed us they were in the process of looking for the guy,” when the accident occurred, Bollinger said.

The nursing home sits along U.S. 36 about two miles east of Rockville.

A woman answering the phone at the nursing facility said the administrator was unavailable for comment.

The Lee Alan Bryant home has a history of similar tragedies. In January 2002, a 71-year-old Myrtle Nordholt died of hypothermia after she wandered away from the facility and died outside from exposure.

In April 2002, 30-year-old resident Derrick Rolewicz left the facility and hanged himself less than a quarter mile away.

After the deaths, state inspectors ordered new locks for the doors of the home, which led to questions about restricting patients’ rights. The majority of the home’s residents have the right to come and go in and out of the facility.

After a third resident wandered away later in April 2002, the state Department of Health recommended the facility’s license be put on probation.

Police were investigating Porter’s death and it will be up to the Parke County prosecutor’s office to decide if any criminal charges will be filed.

Indiana State Department of Health officials were surveying the site Tuesday based on a self-reported incident, according to a Health Department spokeswoman.

She could not confirm if it was Sunday’s accident.