Name: Connor Sparrowhawk
Died: July 4, 2013
Age at death: 18
Cause of death: Drowning
Location: Oxford, England, UK
Connor loved buses and London. He was a happy young man who lived with family. His mother called him “Laughing Boy”, or LB for short. Connor had Klinefelter syndrome, which caused autism, learning disabilities, and epilepsy.
When he died, Connor was in an “assessment and treatment center”, which should have been a short-term stay meant to assess why Connor had been having problems with anxiety since the end of his school years. At first he was admitted on an emergency basis, and his mother hoped they would figure out what was wrong and how to help Connor. But he stayed in the center for 107 days, and nothing was done for him. Connor spent most of his time watching DVDs. Later investigation found that patients at the center had very little purposeful activity available to them. His records show that he had many behavioral outbursts, often crying that he felt suicidal and wanted to go home. There are hints that he was bullied in the unit. He was restrained at least once.
Connor, who had epilepsy and whose seizures were getting worse because of medication that the center was giving him, was left alone in the bath and had a seizure. Due to poor supervision, no one noticed until he had drowned. Staff tried to claim it had been “natural causes”, but his mother eventually found out what had happened.
An investigation uncovered that the center was not clean or safe, that the patients were treated poorly and their wishes were not respected, and that they were not checking on Connor often enough to ensure he did not drown during a seizure. Connor’s death was ruled “preventable”.
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