Only on 9: Woman sues Rock Hill assisted living facility over mother’s death
A woman is suing a Rock Hill assisted living facility more than a year after her mother’s death.
Paula Watt said her 80-year-old mother wandered away from Carolina Gardens in January 2022 and was left outside in the cold for hours.
Channel 9 first aired the 911 call for help last year.
Rock Hill police find no evidence of neglect in woman’s death at assisted living facility
Woman dies after wandering from assisted living facility, spending hours in cold, attorney says
“One of my residents came out here in the middle of the night and she fell on the ground and she -- I don’t know. I know she been out here all night on this ground,” the caller had said.
Channel 9′s Tina Terry spent months investigating the tragedy. Watt said her mother, Joyce Salts, was special to the entire family and they miss her deeply. She remembered some of her final moments with her.
“She grabbed my hand while she was in the hospital and she squeezed it three times, which was her way of telling me she loved me, and I said ‘I love you,’” Watt told Terry.
Salts moved into Carolina Gardens in Rock Hill after being diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. But Watt’s lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday, accuses the assisted living facility and its owners of negligence and wrongful death, claiming they “...failed to properly supervise Ms. Salts, allowing her to elope from the facility” on Jan. 17, 2022.
The lawsuit says Salts “was found the following morning outside of the facility, suffering from hypothermia.” Watt said the medical director at the facility called her that morning, saying her mom had been in her room at 5 a.m. but was gone when staff checked three hours later.
“‘She’s a little cold, don’t worry. We put a blanket around her. As a precaution we’re going to go ahead and take her to the hospital anyway,’” Watt said they told her.
“Almost put me at ease that it was simple -- just found her outside and didn’t have a coat on,” Watt told Terry.
But she said less than an hour later, an emergency room worker at the hospital described a very different situation.
“That’s when it really shocked me,” Watt said. “Because he started talking about my mother being resuscitated, that she had been intubated, and that she showed up unconscious, and that her core temperature was 86 degrees.”
Salts died just days later. Now, Watt says she’s hopeful that this lawsuit will help protect other families.
“I put my mother in this place thinking she was going to be safe and she wasn’t,” Watt said.
Terry called Carolina Gardens several times and left messages for management. So far, she has not heard back. Terry also sent a message to Priority Life Care LLC, which was the managing company and owner of Carolina Gardens. She hasn’t heard back from them either.
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