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Suit: Mentally ill man wandered out of assisted living facility, froze to death in North Aurora

Sun-Times file photo

A 54-year-old mentally ill man froze to death last March after he wandered out of his west suburban assisted living facility in shorts and a t-shirt, according to a lawsuit filed by the man’s family Thursday claiming the facility did not provide proper supervision.

Daniel Devine filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court after his family member, Charles Devine, froze to death March 3 after walking outside at Eden Supportive Living in North Aurora.

Eden accepted Charles Devine as a patient with mental illness — who required supervision — in December 2014 and the assisted living facility’s staff interacted with him regularly while providing him with daily medications for his mental health conditions, according to the suit.

In the early morning hours of March 3, Charles Devine could be seen on surveillance video cameras walking around the hallways of Eden with his shorts on backwards, attempting to use an elevator, but unable to do so and instead pushing different locations on the wall next to the elevator button, the suit claims. He was holding flowers in his hand and pushing and knocking on doors in the facility.

Some time later that morning, Charles Devine left Eden while still wearing his shorts backwards, a t-shirt and running shoes, the suit alleges.

About 1:20 p.m., Eden called the North Aurora Police Department to report that Charles Devine was missing, according to the suit.

The suit claims that, within 30 minutes of police arriving at Eden, Charles Devine was found outside, in the snow, curled up and frozen to death between two vehicles owned by Eden in the parking lot.

According to the National Weather Service, low temperatures that day in Aurora were in the mid-20s.

Eden, the suit alleges, failed to adequately asses Charles Devine’s mental health risk; did not make sure he received appropriate supervision and mental health care; did not adequately train staff or have enough staff on hand for its resident population; and, among other things, violated the Assisted Living and Shared Housing Act.

The two-count suit claims negligence and wrongful death and seeks at least $100,000 in damages.

A representative from Eden Supportive Living could not be reached for comment on the suit Thursday evening.