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Death at 400 Towers will be investigated, board member says

By Howard B. Owens
Oct 14, 2015, 4:24pm

There will be an internal investigation into why a door to a roof was left open at 400 Towers, apparently contributing to the death of a resident of the facility, said Brooks Hawley, a member of the Batavia Housing Authority Board of Directors.

Yesterday morning a 91-year-old man with dementia was found dead on the roof, apparently the victim of exposure after wandering onto the roof and seemingly unable to find his way back into the building.

The name of the man has not yet been released.

Hawley, who is also president of the City Council, called the incident "unfortunate."

"We will be doing an internal investigation to find out what went wrong and whose responsibility it was," Hawley said. "I believe something slipped through the cracks and unfortunately the door to the roof was left open and we need to investigate that and find out why."

This is the second death of questionable circumstances in the past six months at 400 Towers, but Hawley said the two incidents are totally unrelated.

In the prior incident, a resident apparently died of natural causes in his apartment, but his death wasn't discovered for at least two weeks.

"The only reason he was not found is because he didn't have any friends and there are liability issues for just entering somebody's apartment unless there's a cause."

UPDATE: Here's a press release about the incident from Batavia PD:

The Batavia Police Department is currently investigating the death of a 91-year old -male that occurred sometime overnight, Oct. 12 – 13, at 400 E. Main St. in the City of Batavia.

Officers responded at approximately 8:36 a.m. for a missing person report at that location. The call was placed by a caregiver who had stopped to check on the deceased early that morning. After a brief search the man was located on the roof of 400 E. Main St. deceased. Video recovered from the premises shows the man wandering the halls until approximately 1:40 a.m., he appeared to be disoriented. He is last seen going into a stairwell leading to the roof where he was later found.

The Police Department is working closely with the Housing Authority as the investigation proceeds. The body was sent to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. Further details of the investigation will be available pending the results of the autopsy. 

Previously: Resident of 400 Towers reportedly dies of exposure after wandering to roof during the night

Our news partner, WBTA, conducted the interview with Hawley.

Lisa Woltz

Brooks Hawley, a member of the Batavia Housing Authority Board of Directors and president of the City Council. Hawley called the incident "unfortunate."

This isn't going to go over well when the family hears those words. "By the way, your loved one shoulda, coulda, woulda- but, unfortunately it's not our problem.
Why was there no alarm on the door? This could have alerted police or the fire. Obviously, this is frightening to hear it took two weeks to find out one person was deceased.

"The only reason he was not found is because he didn't have any friends and there are liability issues for just entering somebody's apartment unless there's a cause."

Someone had to have noticed the smell of a deceased person. There is your "cause". It's a smell no one just ignores.

Oct 14, 2015, 7:05pm Permalink
Lisa Woltz

The more I've thought about this, this is the second incident with the roof.

Not too long ago, wasn't there a suicide off of the roof? Right then someone should have put an alarm on this door. If I can remember this, wouldn't the Batavia Housing Authority Board of Directors and Hawley?

Oct 14, 2015, 7:52pm Permalink
Kyle Couchman

No Lisa it wasnt a suicide, a man fell out of upper floor window when he lost his balance while fussing with his curtains. But your point is right on the money, The door was supposed to be locked. If it was this wonderful 91 yr old man would still be here today.

Oct 14, 2015, 8:13pm Permalink
Ricky G. Hale

John, I agree with you. Government has NO business being in business!! How is the private entrepreneur suppose to compete with an entity that pays no sales tax, no income tax, and is also tax subsidized. I have to pay the government tax money, and then they use that very money to compete against me. I am paying for my own demise. Also, the city government has no business being in the ice arena business either, or any other business for that matter. Government should stick to doing what they were elected to do, that is to govern, and stay out of everybody else's business. The free enterprise system will do just fine without the government sticking their nose into everybody's business.

Oct 15, 2015, 1:42pm Permalink
Bruce Ross

Why is someone with this advanced stage of dementia living alone in this kind of unrestricted environment? the person could have just as easily walked outside into the street and been struck.

Oct 15, 2015, 4:31pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Actually, the media, at least this media, never said it was advanced. Dementia is often a very slow moving disease that can be problematic to determine when a person has moved beyond self-care.

Oct 15, 2015, 5:12pm Permalink

I live at 400 towers. AQs I understand it is run by HUD, as are other senior and disabled facilities here in Batavia. 400 Towers unfortunately has had no director for months, maybe longer. The previous Director either quit or was fired depending on who you talk with. I agree that it sounds like this gentleman should have been placed in an assisted living facility. There may be more living here as well, and that should be reviewed by maybe Social Services. Families also have some of the responsibility. How the Gentleman found his way to the roof is unexplained. I understand he did not live on the 8th(Top) floor. Why the door was not locked is also a question. Maybe it locked behind him, after the gentleman got on the roof?? Simply having video surveillance does no good if no one ever looks at it. Many have to wonder how this could have happened here??

Oct 15, 2015, 6:21pm Permalink
Kyle Couchman

Fred do not listen to the gossip there. The gentleman DID live on the 8th floor, ass a matter of fact the Stairwell Door is right next to his door.

Oct 15, 2015, 6:34pm Permalink
Lisa Woltz

Thank you for correcting me Kyle. I wasn't too sure about the suicide.

Fred brought up another disturbing fact. There hasn't been a director for some time now? Who is looking out for these safety issues and for the well being of the people in this building? Who is in control of the building with other issues? Is Department of Social Services/Adult Protection Services checking in on their older clients? Personally, I wouldn't want my family members in there!

Oct 16, 2015, 12:38am Permalink
Kyle Couchman

They are often without a director, when I started working there with my client there was no director... The this guy Casey was appointed for a while but he had medical issues that kept him away alot. Then the June incident with the man who died in his apartment and wasn't found happened and he either resigned or was fired. Thats as much as I know. The assistant director and the two women in the office have been there through a few directors so I hear.

Oct 16, 2015, 6:20am Permalink
Lisa Woltz

My opinion- the place needs an overhaul of board members, management and hiring someone to look out for our seniors. I know I'm not the only one seeing the neglect here. If Adult Protective Services were to walk into someone's home after something like this happened, they wouldn't hesitate to arrest the person for "an unfortunate incident". Twice.

Oct 16, 2015, 12:36pm Permalink
John Roach

Lisa, we do not need a new Board, we need to get out of the apartment rental business completely. We need to sell the 400 Towers and the other 3 complexes the City runs.

Oct 16, 2015, 1:24pm Permalink
Lisa Woltz

I would agree with you John. However, what will happen with all of the residents that live at the 3 complexes? You can't just displace them. It would have to be a phase out of some sort. Then there goes some of Batavia's profit. Where would all of these people go?

Oct 16, 2015, 2:24pm Permalink
John Roach

Lisa, why would they be displaced? A new owner would be buying them as apartment complexes, so probably would want to keep current residents.

The City does not make a profit on the units it owns, but if sold they would be on the tax rolls. That would help us all.

Oct 16, 2015, 2:28pm Permalink
Kyle Couchman

The question is would they still be low income housing John, I agree with you to some degree, but HUD contributes to lowering the rent. Alot of people there ONLY put up with the BS from the board and the people they have working there is because they literally can't afford anything else and have no choice.

If a for profit can make it worth their while I say go for it but if it means losing HUD and raising rents then I say Lisa's way makes more sense. Start a clean slate.

On a side note..... even though I had Rosemary's support I can see why, when I applied for a vacant seat on that board, I wasn't selected. I ask to many questions and expect some respect to be shown to the residents.

Oct 16, 2015, 4:08pm Permalink
Lisa Woltz

I understand what you're saying John and maybe I didn't completely finish what Kyle did catch on to. Low Income Housing from HUD could be taken away if bought by another building.

Kyle, as you can see about the questions- I would probably never make it into the building. lol

Oct 16, 2015, 7:00pm Permalink
Kyle Couchman

Oh the admin has encouraged me to leave my employment with my client that lived there once, but the family took a stand and it was dropped. I hate talking about it but thats the pretty brutal truth.

Oct 17, 2015, 6:02am Permalink

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