Name: Jack Sullivan
Died: February 18, 2008
Age at death: 18
Cause of death: Drowning
Location: Canberra, Australia
Jack was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. He had two younger siblings, including a sister named Julia. When Jack was thirteen, he saved his sister's life. Julia was diagnosed with a rare blood disease that required a bone marrow transplant. Jack donated bone marrow, and Julia recovered.
Jack liked to swim, roller-blade, ice skate, and ride a bike. He liked watching Gumby and Postman Pat. He helped his family around the house. He was an active boy who loved sports–any sport. Even without speech, Jack communicated through gestures and smiles, and his family always knew that he loved them unconditionally.
Jack attended respite care on weekends. The service was government funded, but the agency had a history of failing to meet residents' needs, including at least one other death. This history was not made available to Jack's family; his mother, a stay-at-home mom who advocated for Jack and other autistic children, would never have left Jack in their care if she had known.
At respite care, Jack had an epileptic seizure while he was in the bathtub. Even though Jack was supposed to be supervised, staff had left him alone. He drowned.
The government investigated the agency for negligence, but they could not find enough evidence for a manslaughter charge.