Kevin DeAnda

Photo: A heavyset, fair-skinned man with a buzz cut and a mustache, wearing a plastic flower lei and giving the camera a thumbs-up sign.Name: Kevin DeAnda
Died: Dec. 31, 2008
Age at death: 25
Cause of death: Sleep apnea; neglect.
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Kevin DeAnda’s defining trait was his generosity. He would give away his last dollar, or the shirt on his back. “Literally,” his mother says. “Several times I had to get it back.”

Kevin’s family describes him as “a funny, gifted, intelligent, loving, compassionate and memorable young man. He could recite entire movie scripts, word for word, in character, leaving us rolling on the floor laughing. He had a photographic memory and never let us forget it. He was a poet and artist. He loved music, and was able to tell you anything you wanted to know about any genre of music, the meaning of lyrics or the background of the artists. He was a spiritual soul, an avid researcher of all religions. He was the spark in our family.”

Kevin had autism, depression, psychosis, and severe sleep apnea; a doctor recommended he be monitored every 10-15 minutes while he slept, because Kevin would not wear a CPAP breathing mask [Ed.’s note: A breathing mask and CPAP machine may have caused sensory overload for Kevin, making it impossible for him to sleep at all]. After caring for Kevin at home for a while, his family realized they did not have the resources necessary to provide this round-the-clock monitoring, and Kevin went to live at an assisted living center.

On the night of his death, a staff member told Kevin to lie on his back. This sleep position is dangerous for people with obstructive sleep apnea because the tongue and throat can relax and close off the airways. After this event, they did not check on Kevin again for nearly three hours. When they did, he was dead.

An autopsy confirmed that Kevin had died of “complications from obesity and obstructive sleep apnea, with mixed drug intoxication.” [Ed.: “Drug intoxication” here refers to the medication he had been given at the institution, not to illegal drugs; it most likely included neuroleptics or other major tranquilizers, medications which cause sedation and can raise the risk of sleep apnea.]

Kevin’s parents sued the institution, and the judge ruled that staff had been negligent in monitoring Kevin properly. They were awarded nearly 900 thousand dollars in damages. However, Kevin’s parents realized that this would not be the sort of memorial their generous, kind son would have wanted; so they started a charity organization they called “Kheaven Sent,” which offers college scholarships to people with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses and their siblings.

Find a Grave: Kevin Phillip DeAnda
DeAnda v. New Pathways, Inc., 32,148
NM Family Awarded Nearly $900K In Son’s Death
The Story Behind Kheaven Sent
Family awarded $900K in son’s death
Let’s make 2014 a little kinder than 2013

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