Caretaker leaves men in van

As temperatures dropped into the 40s, three disabled men sat in a van for hours while their caretaker bought shoes and clothing for himself.

A customer shopping at Greenwood Park Mall called police at 7 p.m. Friday when she noticed the van still parked with the men inside after she had been shopping for about an hour. Another hour passed before Christopher W. McCoy, 24, came outside, shopping bags in hand.

McCoy told police he worked as a caregiver and was supposed to be caring for the three men, who cannot communicate or care for themselves. But he wanted to check out some sales at the mall, and he knew it was his responsibility to care for the men. So he brought them with him to the mall and then left them in the van for about two hours, according to the police report.

McCoy, of South Bend, was arrested on three charges of neglect of a dependent.

On Friday night, the temperature dropped below 50 degrees. Two of the men had wet diapers when police found them. Not one was wearing a coat.

McCoy lived with the three disabled men, ages 24, 25 and 30, at a home in Franklin, said Jerry Kiefer, adult protective services investigator for Johnson and Shelby counties.

The three men he was caring for can’t talk or take care of themselves and are completely dependent on a caregiver, Kiefer said.

One man’s diagnoses includes blindness, seizures and hydrocephalus, which is a buildup of fluid on the brain.

McCoy told police he was working for ResCare, a Kentucky-based company that provides services for people with disabilities, and he drove the men to the mall in a company vehicle. Caregivers are not required to be licensed through the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, which issues licenses for nurses and other professionals, according to a state spokeswoman. McCoy did not have a license.

Company officials were not available Monday.

McCoy told police he thought the men would be alright alone in the van.

Kiefer said he worries about what could have happened in an emergency, since the men could not have protected themselves or gotten out of the van. And if a passer-by hadn’t called police, no one likely would have ever known what happened, since the men couldn’t communicate, he said.

McCoy told police he was sorry and that he knew that someone who did something like this should be punished and go to jail, the police report said.

“He expressed remorse, that he had made a terrible mistake,” Kiefer said. “I told him he needs to be in another line of business.”

McCoy, 51661 E. Gatehouse Drive, South Bend, was arrested and taken to the Johnson County jail.

The state of Indiana has no licensing authority over homes where people are cared for with a Medicaid waiver, said Marni Lemons, spokeswoman for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. The homes typically are owned or rented by the residents who qualify for Medicaid.

However, the state does regulate the companies, such as ResCare, that provide the employees.