Disabled man found dead in hot car is identified

Posted Saturday, Jul. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The man found dead Thursday in a hot car outside a group home where he lived was mentally challenged and so physically disabled that he needed help walking and getting in and out of cars, a police spokeswoman said Friday.

On Saturday, the Tarrant County medical examiner identified the man as Terrance Sanders, 29.

“That will be a big determination on how we will proceed” with the case, Arlington police spokeswoman Tiara Richard said. “We don’t know if his death was medical, heat-related or something we haven’t even thought of.”

She said the man was 29.

Police were called to the residence in the 6500 block of El Dorado Drive at 3:15 p.m. Thursday after his body was found in a Honda CRV used by the group home.

Officers were told that about six hours earlier, the driver of the vehicle had taken three residents to an adult day care facility in Grand Prairie. The victim evidently was still in the vehicle when it returned to the group home and was parked outside. Temperatures were in the mid-90s Thursday afternoon.

“The victim had severely diminished abilities,” Richard said. “He was not able to get out of the car by himself, and also needed assistance with walking.”

Investigators were “working to verify the story we’ve been told,” she said.

The death was being investigated Friday by Arlington police and state officials who oversee group homes.

The group home is operated by Cherry Tree Residential Services to care for people with special needs.

Owners of the business could not be reached Friday to comment.

Cecilia Cavuto, spokeswoman for the Austin-based Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, said the company has three contracts in Texas.

“They currently serve 23 people in eight residential homes under this contract,” Cavuto said.

The agency conducted an annual review of the company in February and found some administrative issues that needed to be corrected.

But, Cavuto said, “There were no issues related to the health or safety of clients identified.”

Investigators for Child Protective Services will assist with the investigation, said Marissa Gonzales, a CPS spokeswoman. Interagency assistance is routine when an adult dies in a state-regulated group home, she said.

Bill Miller, 817-390-7684

Twitter: @Bill_MillerST

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