Teen dies at residential treatment facility

November 8, 2010 4:16:01 PM PST
Law enforcement officials are investigating a teenager's death at a treatment center in Brazoria County that's supposed to help children. This isn't the first time the Daystar Residential Facility on County Road 736B has been in the headlines and it's not the first time a child has died in its care.

Brazoria County investigators say they spent the day talking with a staff member who was present at the time of the incident in the facility last Friday.

Authorities say when Michael Owens, 16, was restrained, there were two staff members present and seven residents, but they are not able to talk with many of the residents given their mental disabilities.

On Friday, Manvel EMS crews were called to the Daystar facility. CPR had been started on a 16-year-old juvenile resident. Manvel EMS arrived on scene and continued life support measures on the patient. Sheriff's deputies arrived shortly to assist.

The teen was transported to Herman Memorial Hospital via ambulance. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

We were told Owens had past issues with aggressive behavior and say he had been on some medication.

Investigators are trying to determine exactly how Owens was restrained and what the facility's policy is at the home and what the staff members did. They are also requesting video of the incident, although the incident may have taken place in a bedroom where there are no cameras for privacy reasons.

A spokesperson for the Department of Family and Protective Services said, "He had been in state custody since June 4, 2008, when CPS petitioned a court for his removal. The boy, whose home was in Howard County, had been at Daystar since March 24, 2010."

The preliminary cause of death has been ruled asphyxiation.

"They have a restraint policy there. We're still trying to figure out exactly what type of restraint policy they have. We're still unclear on that," said Ronny Falks with the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office. "We know that they are able to restrain the juveniles if and when necessary to do so, but we're still not sure what type of restraints were used on this young man."

An attorney for Daystar told us they are not ready to make a statement at this time.

The state is familiar with the facility. Patrick Crimmins, a DFPS spokesman, said, "Several days before the death, on November 1, DFPS informed Daystar management that the facility would be placed on probation because of persistent concerns about the facility and the children in its care. Since June 11, DFPS has not placed foster children at the facility. A special monitor was hired and worked at Daystar from June 21 until September 30."

This isn't the first time there's been a death at Daystar Residential. Back in February 2002, a 15-year-old girl, Latasha Bush, died at the center. She had only been there 12 days when she died. The Harris County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide caused by complications of mechanical asphyxia.

Daystar helps children with developmental and emotional disorders. Most of the patients at the facility are admitted at the suggestion of state agencies. According Daystar's website, the facility works closely with school districts so that many of their clients are able to go to public school.


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