Cheryl Yewdall expended most of her lifestyle at a Philadelphia care residence for folks with developmental disabilities. It was there, on Jan. 26, that the 50-year-outdated was discovered facial area down on the floor, in a pool of urine, suffocating on a significant wad of paper that experienced been stuffed down her throat.
She died five days later on.
No just one in authority has claimed how a 6- or 7-inch paper towel or disinfecting wipe wound up in the trachea of a female with cerebral palsy and profound mental disabilities. The health-related examiner’s place of work explained it could not figure out the fashion of Yewdall’s demise, and a law enforcement investigation has yielded no arrests.
But an lawyer for Yewdall’s mom, in a new wrongful death lawsuit, casts suspicion on an unknown staff member at Merakey Woodhaven — and suggests that Yewdall herself remaining a disturbing clue about how she was taken care of at the location she termed property for 4 decades.
“She was just so sweet and harmless and helpless, and she depended on them to treatment for her and really like her and be safe,” Yewdall’s mother, Christine Civatte, reported in a cell phone interview. “I just imagined they would protect her.”
In a composed statement to The Associated Press, Merakey explained it “denies any accountability” for Yewdall’s death, which it referred to as “a critical and tragic incident.” The firm said it has cooperated with condition and nearby investigations.
“She was a valued member of the Merakey local community, and we ended up honored to have experienced her in our care for additional than 40 many years,” reported Merakey, a company of developmental, behavioral wellness and education solutions with virtually 700 areas nationwide.
Born 3 months premature, Cheryl Yewdall went to are living at Woodhaven as a youngster. She liked nursery rhymes, doo-wop tunes and especially Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue” — anytime her mother place it on, Yewdall would smile, clap her palms and rock back and forth in her wheelchair.
Christine Civatte stated she thought all the things was high-quality.
But in January 2021, a 12 months before her death, Cheryl endured a damaged leg that went undiagnosed, the lawsuit explained. Then, right after an X-ray confirmed the fracture, employees failed to spot an immobilizer on her leg as essential, telling a checking out health practitioner months afterwards they did not know how, the lawsuit stated.
And in a separate incident, from September 2021, Yewdall was noted to have a black eye and swollen cheek, which Woodhaven attributed to a slide, the lawsuit said.
Yewdall, who had restricted verbal competencies, usually repeated terms and phrases she listened to other people today say, a issue referred to as echolalia. Just one working day, her sister asked her to say, “Hi Daddy.”
Yewdall’s reaction, recorded by her sister on an Apple iphone, was chilling.
“Listen to me, a———. Settle down newborn. I’m likely to destroy you if you don’t settle down,” reported Yewdall. “I’m heading to kill you, a———.”
The very clear implication, according to James Pepper, the law firm for Yewdall’s mom, was that she was merely repeating what she’d listened to at Woodhaven.
“Cheryl’s recounting of what she read previously, and the undisputed info of what happened to her in the course of that yearlong interval (right before her loss of life), match up,” claimed Pepper, who involved a transcript of Yewdall’s statements to her sister in the lawsuit.
The Pennsylvania Division of Wellness threatened to terminate Woodhaven’s license after Yewdall’s loss of life. In their evaluation, regulators also located the treatment household denied prompt emergency remedy to an additional resident who fractured his hip, and failed to safeguard two citizens with pica, an feeding on dysfunction in which somebody consumes matters that are not food, in accordance to a point out report.
The report confirmed that “Merakey experienced no productive procedures in location to reduce its inhabitants from participating in pica conduct,” Civatte’s lawsuit mentioned.
Although other Woodhaven people struggled with pica, Pepper stated, he does not believe that Yewdall inserted a large disinfectant wipe in her individual windpipe. She had a normal gag reflex and no history of pica, according to Woodhaven records reviewed by the Well being Section.
“No a person with a gag reflex in just usual restrictions could have set a cleansing wipe … into their trachea,” Pepper claimed.
The lawsuit, rather, pins blame on an individual at Woodhaven.
“Cheryl Yewdall’s lack of any heritage of participating in pica habits indicates that a staff members member at Merakey Woodhaven placed the cleansing wipe in Cheryl Yewdall’s trachea,” the lawsuit mentioned.
Philadelphia police did not answer to several requests for comment. The point out lawyer general’s business office, which has jurisdiction on legal neglect at nursing houses, declined remark.
The condition Well being Division returned to Woodhaven on Sept. 6 and lifted the care home’s termination recognize, concluding it had designed “significant progress” in correcting troubles.
Woodhaven despatched condolences to Civatte following her daughter’s dying, but provided no info about how and why it transpired, Civatte mentioned. Employees invited her to pick up Cheryl’s belongings: six tubs of apparel, toys, dolls.
Civatte said she’s still wanting for answers.
“I have to have to know everything that transpired. Each and every single second,” Civatte reported. “I have to have to locate out who discovered her. I need to know who did this.”