DHEC investigating assisted living facility where resident went missing

John Haddon (Source: Charleston Police)
John Haddon (Source: Charleston Police)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The State Department of Health and Environmental Control is investigating a West Ashley assisted living facility where a resident went missing.

The resident, John Haddon, 62, disappeared Sunday night from the Ashley River Plantation facility on Highway 61.

Haddon, who has Alzheimer's Disease, had last been seen in the area of Beechwood and Ashley River Roads before a police officer found him at approximately 2:30 a.m. Monday in the area of King and Huger Streets, according to authorities.

Police have not said how Haddon managed to get from West Ashley to downtown Charleston.

DHEC spokesman Robert Yannity said the agency is investigating Ashley River Plantation for any alleged violations stemming from the incident.

Haddon's family said he has lived at the assisted living facility since last year.

According to a police report, Haddon's daughter told police Haddon's caregivers told her he was doing his daily walk in the parking lot and didn't return.

The DHEC spokesman said a detailed report will be released when the investigation is completed.

The spokesman said the agency investigated a similar incident at the facility in May of this year.

Wednesday afternoon, Ashley River Plantation issued a statement:

"At Ashley River Plantation, the safety and care of our residents is our highest priority," the spokeswoman said. "We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing outstanding care of our residents. Everyone here is pleased that the incident was quickly resolved and that the resident was not harmed."

Last year two women died after wandering away from two other assisted living facilities.

Bonnie Walker was killed by an alligator after falling into a pond behind Brookdale Assisted Living.

Marie Duddy died after wandering away from Savannah Place on James Island.

State Representative Wendell Gilliard vowed to strengthen the laws for facilities.

Gilliard held several meetings with DHEC, fellow lawmakers and health care professionals.

But so far no legislation has been passed.

"Well, that's the way the ball goes in Columbia. You introduce bills after you do your research. You try to gain what we would call in Columbia bipartisan support. But what I've learned is you never give up," Gilliard said Wednesday.

Gilliard is confident in the next legislative session he can get his bill passed that will address education, staffing and safety at assisted living facilities.

"We don't do anything, next year the incidents will be there, the fatalities will increase," Gilliard said.

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