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Special Needs Teen Dies After Jumping from Ambulance Onto Interstate

Special Needs Teen Dies After Jumping from Ambulance Onto Interstate

Ryan Emory

Greenville News via YellowBrix

March 03, 2010

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Family members of a teen killed when he jumped from a moving ambulance said that the death of the autistic 16-year-old on Sunday could have been prevented.

For starters, Shelley Hodge didn’t want her son, Ryan Emory, released from the William S. Hall Psychiatric Institute in Columbia on Feb. 6.

On his discharge papers she wrote: “I, Shelly Hodge, Ryan Emory’s mother, disagree with the Department of Disabilities and Special Need’s discharge recommendation at this time. There are no services in place. I fear for my safety and his.”

Hodge isn’t just a concerned mother. She’s also a nurse. Based on her medical training, she believes there was something very wrong with her son — more than just autism.

“He knows his little mind was broken and just wanted someone to help him. No one would help him. Nobody would take him in. All he needed was 24/7 care at a facility to evaluate him. That’s what I was asking for,” said Hodge.

Hodge said her son was like a 6-year-old mentally, but physically, he was big and strong. Emory weighed 250 pounds, so when he threw a tantrum there was a chance someone would get hurt. Often it was family.

Hodge tried to impress the DDSN that her son desperately needed help.

“‘This kid’s not safe. It’s not going to end well.’ I told them that and they didn’t believe me,” said Hodge.

According to family members, Emory was hospitalized three times since December.

They claim the DDSN told them Emory didn’t meet the criteria for round-the-clock care.

Friday, after another episode of violence, Emory was taken to Greenville Memorial Hospital.

Sunday, he learned learned he was being transferred back to the Psychiatric Institute in Columbia.

“Ryan made it clear he didn’t want to go. He was sedated. The last thing he said to me was, ‘Goodbye. I’m going to rest now,’” said Hodge.

Twenty minutes later, Hodge learned that her son jumped out of an ambulance onto Interstate 85.

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