Saturday, April 10, 1999

Group-home death ruled accidental

Business owned by Mason mayor

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — No criminal charges will be filed in the February drowning death of a mentally handicapped man at a group home owned by Mayor Betty Davis.

        “The coroner ruled the death was an accident. We could find no evidence of neglect or abuse in this case,” Brett Crow, a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General's office, said Friday.

        The state agency assigned two detectives to investigate Jason Standafer's death at the request of Mason police, who wanted to avoid a conflict of interest. State detectives com pleted the investigation Friday.

        Mr. Standafer, 26, was pronounced dead at Bethesda North Hospital Feb. 15 after a supervisor at the Tradewind Drive group home found him unresponsive in a bathtub full of water about 7 a.m. He had lived at Community Concepts for five years.

        State investigators looked at whether Community Concepts staff did enough to prevent Mr. Standafer's death.

        “All indications are he went in and got in the tub by himself while the people were working in another hallway,” Mason Chief Ron Ferrell said after learning of the state's decision.

        Ms. Davis, who owns eight other group homes, said the state's decision was the “correct one.”

        “We felt that from the beginning, the situation was an accident that did not involve neglect or anything that was certainly implied by the investigation,” she said.

        Mr. Standafer's death came within four days of a similar incident in which group home workers found him in the bathtub without supervision. Mr. Standafer was not allowed to bathe without supervision because he suffered from a seizure disorder.

        To discourage Mr. Standafer from bathing himself, a Community Concept supervisor locked up his bath toys. However, the toys were found in the bath tub on the day he died, a police report said.

        Group home workers told police they did not know how Mr. Standafer got into the bathroom by himself on Feb. 15. He was in a wheelchair and functioned at the developmental level of a 2- or 3-year-old, according to his mother.

        Mr. Standafer's mother could not be reached for com ment Friday. She told the Enquirer in February that she supported the staff at Community Concepts.

        Ms. Davis said she is not bitter about the state investigation. “I didn't want anyone to think the Mason police department would be prejudiced,” she said.

        “I was satisfied that it needed to be elsewhere if for no other reason than the appearance.”


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