MESA, Ariz. - A Mesa retirement home is launching an independent internal investigation after a 90-year-old resident was left in a van and died.
The incident happened on July 22, and the man, since identified as Lawrence Bearse, was a resident at the Canyon Winds retirement community near Power Road and McDowell.
According to Mesa Police officials, a worker had flagged down a patrol officer after discovering that Bearse had been left in the vehicle. By the time officers went inside, he had already died.
Former Arizona Attorney General to conduct investigation
Canyon Winds Assisted Living and Memory Care says it has hired former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods to conduct the internal investigation into the incident.
"The point is, number one, to figure out what happened and how did it happen, and then, take a look at policies and procedures and see if there is a way to make sure this doesn't happen again," said Woods.
Woods said the investigation could last into the fall, and the facility is being fully cooperative.
"We understand some of these people are the most vulnerable in our society. Every precaution has to be taken because they are vulnerable in many cases. Everyone takes this seriously," said Woods.
Meanwhile, Mesa Police officials are also conducting their own investigation.
Family still in shock
Kylie Bearse, the victim's granddaughter, said she has been in disbelief and shock since learning how her grandfather died.
"Being left in the back of the van for 20 hours, and didn’t notice he was missing until my grandma showed up the next morning," said Kylie.
Kylie said her grandfather had advanced stages of Alzheimer's and was left inside the transport after his doctor's appointment.
The victim was a Marine veteran, married to his wife for 67 years, and loved spending time with his family.
"He was an avid golfer. He had 25 hole-in-ones," said Kylie. "He was a really good man, and I think that is part of the reason why this hurts so much. He deserved to die with respect and not forgotten in the back of the van."
News of the new investigation is reportedly upsetting for the Bearse family. They claim they have been trying to get this kind of information from the facility themselves, with no cooperation.
Meanwhile, the family has hired their own attorney.
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