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Sister of U.S. 421 crash victim alleges negligence on the part of care facility

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dionna Scott was killed while walking near U.S. 421 and Willow Road, just north of Zionsville, in April after eloping from her Indianapolis care facility.

Her sister, Lakeisha Thomas, said Scott lived with an intellectual disability, and she eloped from the “Caregiver, Inc.” run facility that was in charge of her care on the day she died. Thomas said understaffing caused her sister’s death.

“My sister is not here anymore due to negligence,” Thomas said. “It’s very frustrating.”

Dionna Scott required full-time care after a childhood car accident caused her disability. Thomas said her family entrusted her to Caregiver, Inc., a Texas-based company with locations in Indiana.

“My parents were no longer able to care for her physically, so she was placed in a facility where a staff was there 24 hours to care for her,” Thomas said.

Thomas said she wants to know the truth about the night her sister was killed.

It is unclear when or how Scott left the Indianapolis home she lived in with two other clients on April 22. Thomas was given conflicting information when she questioned the facility. She was told her sister left at midnight or 2 a.m. It is unclear if the staff called the police.

Scott made it 6.7 miles before she was hit by a car at the intersection of U.S. 421 and Willow Road just north of Zionsville. She died at St. Vincent Hospital.

“I am being told different things,” Thomas said. “I am being told the staff was asleep. I am being told there were other clients at the house so the staff couldn’t leave, so the staff couldn’t go after my sister, meaning the house was understaffed. If there are three clients, there should at least be two staff members.”

Thomas said her sister had a documented history of elopements, and even eloped the day prior to her death, but it was not reported.

“I am being told the reason incident reports are not being filed is because they do not want the state to come and investigate issues that they have, so they don’t follow protocol, policies, or procedures,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the company her family originally entrusted her sister to was bought out by Caregiver, Inc. She said the quality of care has fallen leading up to her sister’s death.

She alleges staff left clients alone, did not keep up with medication schedules, and services were cut after the buyout.

“In the daytime, they usually have two staff members,” Thomas said. “I was under the impression that they also have two at night, but I was told due to budget cuts, they haven’t been able to have two staff members at night, which is not the correct policy and procedure. That’s not what they signed in their contract.”

While Thomas searches for answers, she wants other people to know her sister’s story.

“It’s sickening the things that I’m being told right now and I’m not only speaking up for my sister, but for others that can’t speak up for themselves,” Thomas said. “For the families that are afraid to speak up for themselves. The nonverbal clients that can’t even tell you their needs. It’s horrible.”

Thomas said this loss has been devastating for her family because she says adequate staffing could have prevented it.

“I’m very upset. They trusted these companies to take care of her and they failed to do their job so it’s very upsetting,” Thomas said. “We had a great relationship with my sister. We talked to my sister just about every day.”

Thomas and her family said Scott’s funeral was Friday and they will now start pursuing their options in the legal system.

Caregiver, Inc. did not respond to News 8’s request for comment.