For five days and five nights, Paige Elizabeth Lunsford — a severely disabled teen — retched "like a waterfall," could not eat and thrashed about in an "educational center" staffed with teachers, nurses and a doctor.
Paige was sick, and getting sicker. But caregivers did not send her to a hospital. Instead, they bound her wrists, ankles, biceps and waist with restraints to keep her from flailing.
Paige, nonverbal due to autism, could not ask for help. And none came.
Blond, pigtailed Paige, the child of Margate residents, died at the Carlton Palms Educational Center in July 2013, baking with fever, 10 days after she was sent there. A victim of medical neglect, according to the Department of Children & Families, she now rests beneath a small grave marker etched with musical notes and linked hearts.
An autopsy determined that the 14-year-old succumbed to dehydration, the result of a severe but treatable infection.
Her death spawned the 140th DCF neglect or abuse probe involving the Lake County home since 2001 — there have been eight more reports since then — and yet, the facility has never paid a fine and never been disciplined. Story by Carol Marbin Miller here.
Photo: Emily Michot, Miami Herald