Autistic Boy Dies While Being
Restrained by Attendants
By Chris Schreiber
San Antonio. A 14-year-old autistic boy died in
a San Antonio mental hospital March 4 after being restrained by
hospital workers, the city’s second death in a month in which a
child patient died while being restrained.
Fred Hines, CEO of Southwest Mental Health
Center, said psychiatric attendants were attempting to restrain
patient Willie Wright so he could be sedated at the request of two
physicians. After holding Wright on his side for about 15 minutes,
Hines said, Wright stopped struggling and workers noticed he was no
longer breathing. They administered CPR, but neither the workers nor
an emergency crew could revive him.
Wright’s death is being investigated by the
Bexar County medical examiner’s office, with a final report pending
toxicology and microscopic analysis, said Katherine Diana,
spokeswoman for the office. A final report is expected in about two
weeks, she said.
Hines described Wright as "intermittently
explosive" and said no charges or disciplinary action would be taken
against the workers.
"Police found nothing they were concerned about
and Texas Department of Health officials said they didn’t see
anything wrong with how the situation was handled. It’s just one of
those real unfortunate incidents," Hines said.
Hines said all the employees involved had
undergone training on proper restraint techniques within the last
six months. Wright’s death is the first incident of its kind in the
center’s 114-year history, Hines said.
Wright’s death occurred about one month after a
similar incident at the Laurel Ridge Hospital, also in San Antonio.
Randy Steele, 9, died of a heart attack brought on by "excited
delirium" while being restrained, according to the Bexar County
medical examiner. The autopsy revealed that Steele had an enlarged
heart that contributed to the attack. Police did not file charges in
the Laurel Ridge case, said Donna Burtanger, spokeswoman for the