Simple tips to avoid tragedy as hot car deaths reach highest toll on record
When her mother’s nursing home said that her mom never made it back after dialysis, Shakira Breedlove frantically called family members and the transportation company charged with driving her.
The 38-year-old got in her car and drove to the dialysis center, hoping her mother, Carolyn Roberson, would be there.
Breedlove would later learn from the Broward Sheriff’s Office that her 57-year-old mother — who uses a wheelchair and has trouble speaking — was trapped in a hot van parked in the driver’s Deerfield Beach apartment complex. She was likely there for more than four hours, BSO said.
The driver, Oscar Dorador, 38, told investigators he forgot she was in the van, according to the department.
Dorador was arrested Wednesday and charged with neglect of an elderly or disabled adult. He was released on $15,000 bond. Dorador could not be reached for comment Friday, and there was no attorney listed for him in court records.
About 10 p.m. Aug. 8, the administrator at Roberson’s nursing home, Pompano Beach Health and Rehab Center, was notified that Roberson had never made it back from dialysis. She began trying to figure out where Roberson could be. She even reported her missing to BSO.
“It was determined that Dorador provided a false address to his company as to his final drop-off location, making it more difficult to locate the victim,” a deputy wrote in the report.
Then came a call to the Broward Sheriff’s Office from a security guard: Someone was “locked inside of a van” at 700 NE 41st St. The guard heard her screaming.
Sheriff’s deputies found Roberson, who BSO says is partially blind, has kidney issues and uses a wheelchair. Her wheelchair was strapped in and she could not get out.
“What happened to Ms. Roberson was an entirely preventable injustice,” family attorney Blake Dolman said. “The driver knew that she was in the van and instead of taking her from her dialysis appointment back to the nursing home where she presently resides, he chose to go to his own home and leave her in the van for many hours. I am unable to understand why anybody would do such a thing.”
According to deputies, Dorador was driving for Ready2Transport Inc., a Hialeah Gardens company. The company was contracted to provide transportation through LogistiCare, which works with Medicare, and serves as a transportation broker.
No one answered Friday at a number listed for Ready2Transport. LogistiCare said in a statement that “the driver has been removed from [its] network and is not allowed to transport any LogistiCare members.”
“We will cooperate with any investigation by law enforcement, as the integrity of the program and safety of our riders is paramount and behavior that puts them at risk is not tolerated,” the company continued. “Once our investigation is complete, we will implement further corrective actions with the transportation provider, if needed.”
Breedlove didn’t get to see her mother, who was taken to the hospital for evaluation, until just after midnight on Aug. 9.
“She was crying and really upset,” Breedlove said. “It was really hard to see.”
Several days after the incident, deputies spoke to Roberson and the nursing home to piece together what happened, according to a report.
Though Roberson has a hard time speaking, police say, she “appears aware of her surroundings.”
She told deputies that she went to “his house” instead of hers. She said the driver’s kids “were laughing and knocking on the van.”
Roberson told officers “she was scared, hot and hungry.”
Breedlove said while police are making it seem like it was an accident, her mother told her she tried to get him to take her home.
“At first I thought maybe she fell asleep,” she said. “But then she said she told him she wanted to go home and heard him lock the van.”
Since the incident, she said her mom is scared to go in a van, and she can’t stop worrying about her.
“Everybody who is involved in this needs to be held accountable,” she said.