We spoke to the victim's family member by phone today. She told us the 57-year-old disabled woman, Rebekah Harkins, is fighting for her life and is in the ICU. This, as HPD investigates how and why she was left in a hot van for hours at the facility responsible for caring for her.
Police say Harkins suffers from autism and also a heart condition. Authorities say she and other patients were picked up from their group home yesterday around 9:40am and brought to the Sean Ashley House, a non-profit that offers activities and transportation to doctor appointments, as well as other social and educational activities for children and adults with autism.
But police say Harkins never got off the van. In fact, we're told she stayed on the hot van for hours until around 2:30pm when police say she was found lying on the van floor. Authorities say she was over-heated, dehydrated and unresponsive.
"We do not know if she fell asleep or what have you, but she was left in the van for several hours and was found by one of the supervisors when they were loading the van to leave for to go back to their group homes," said Sgt. Tracey Richardson with the Houston Police Department.
So far police have not filed any charges. HPD is still investigating.
After reaching out to the Sean Ashley House, they responded with the following statement.
"We are deeply saddened to report that a client was left unattended in a van for several hours yesterday before she was discovered and taken to the hospital. All of our thoughts and prayers go out to our client and her family and we are fully cooperating with the authorities in the investigation to determine how this tragedy could have happened. We would ask all of you to also keep our client and her family in your thoughts and prayers."
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