Nursing home patient freezes to death

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Chris Proffitt/Eyewitness News

Marion - Authorities say the cold temperatures killed a man in Grant County. The victim was a nursing home patient who wandered from a facility in Marion. However, none of the staff members realized he was gone.

Authorities are looking into how the elderly patient at the Bradner Village Health Care Center wandered out.

Investigators say 76-year-old Clarence Elliott suffered from dementia and had a history of wandering outside into a courtyard at Marion's Bradner Village Health Care Center. That's where his body was found frozen around 3:00 am Thursday, some six hours after he was last seen.

"There's a buzzer on the door that was in working order. We checked it. No one heard the buzzer go off and he wandered out," said Stephen Dorsey, Grant County coroner.

Since 2003, Clarence Elliott has been a patient in the nursing home's Alzheimer's Unit. The coroner ruled Elliott's death accidental and that he died from hypothermia. The temperature was around zero when his body was discovered. Investigators believe he tripped over a rock 50 feet from the locked door and had crawled back, but died from exposure. The question is why he wasn't supervised given his history.

"Based on their policy, somebody should probably have been watching him," said Dorsey.

The nursing home tells Eyewitness News that it's cooperating with law enforcement and the Indiana State Department of Health.

Bradner Village is linked to two other recent death investigations, one in September when two employees and a former employee were charged with neglect in the death of a patient and in October, when a female resident drowned in a river after a former Bradner employee took her there at the woman's request. The nursing home was also fined $4,000 in October.