Name: Sean Yates
Died: Missing Jan. 30, 2014; body found Feb. 22.
Age at death: 35
Cause of death: Drowning; head injuries
Location: Corpus Christi, Texas, US
Sean Yates, diagnosed with Asperger's and ADHD, grew up at home with his family. As a child, he used to make fake 911 calls, crawl through the air vents in the family trailer, and got so good at escaping the house that they boarded up his windows–which didn't stop Sean, who knocked a hole through the wall and got out anyway. Sean loved wandering, and when he did get out, his family simply went to the woods nearby and tracked him down. Most of the time they found him within a few hours, and the longest he'd ever been missing was 16 hours.
In his most dangerous escapade, Sean got into a logging truck and drove it 30 miles before he was pulled over by the police.
Ashley, Sean's sister, comments, “He loved that cowboy hat; his George Strait hat… He loved George Strait. One song by George Strait, 'Giving All We Got Tonight,' that was Sean’s favorite song. And Jason Aldean, 'I’ll See You When I See You.'"
After the logging truck incident, a judge ordered that Sean should be put into a lockdown facility. He was sent to a supported living center, and there he continued his escapes. But maybe it wasn't just Sean's escape-artist tricks anymore–the center was a place that anyone, disabled or not, would want to leave.
While Sean was at the assisted living center, for at least a year the staff members used to entertain themselves by forcing their clients to fight each other. Police found over a hundred cell phone videos of brutal fights. Sean's sister saw that he had an injured, swollen ear and believes he may have been forced to participate. The year before that, investigations found fifty-three preventable deaths had happened at the facility, which promised to reform and stayed open.
After a meeting about the center's high level of one-to-one supervision, the center decided Sean should be transferred out. At the time, Sean was on constant supervision, and his tendency to escape was considered his only real obstacle to independent living. So the center reduced Sean's supervision level, and nine days later he escaped again.
But this time, he was not found for nearly a month, and by then it was far too late. Sean's body was found in a river, under a bridge. He had been dead for "at least several days".
Family and Protective Services determined that the reduction in supervision had been an error, and that the death had been preventable. Staff had reduced supervision on a person who was known to escape and had not known he was missing until over an hour after he left.
Sean's death was ruled an accidental drowning, but Ashley, Sean's little sister, thinks there's more to it than that because Sean had other injuries; Sean's nose and cheekbones were broken, and Ashley believes someone beat him up before he died.
Ashley says about Sean, that, "it didn't matter if you met him for just a few seconds or you've known him all your life but if you met him one time, you would've never forgotten him."
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