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

By Howard B. Owens
Oct 14, 2015, 10:04am

For the second time within six months a resident at 400 Towers has died under questionable circumstances.

Yesterday morning a 91-year-old man who reportedly suffered from mild dementia was found dead on the roof of the west wing of 400 Towers. He apparently died of exposure.

Chief Shawn Heubusch, Batavia PD, confirmed last night the death and that the man was found on the roof, but officials have yet to release the man's name.

Kyle Couchman, who was hired as an independent contractor to help care for the gentleman, called police yesterday morning after he found the man was missing from his room.

Couchman said the man would occasionally get up in the middle of the night and be confused about where he was and would wander off. Typically, when that happened, he would first move things around his room, so when Couchman arrived in the morning and found his room in a bit of disarray he knew the man had another wandering episode.

He tried calling the man's cell phone and began searching the stairwell to see if he might have stopped to rest or fallen. On the sixth floor, in a walkway outside the stairwell, he found the man's phone, wallet and towels from the man's room.  

It was now after 8:30 a.m., he said, and the 400 Towers Office was open for the day and he asked if surveillance video could be reviewed and he said he was told he would have to wait until the maintenance supervisor was available, or he could call police for assistance, so he called police.

A short time after Officer Frank Klimjack arrived on scene, the maintenance supervisor found the gentleman's body on the roof. 

A county coroner pronounced the man dead at the scene, Couchman said.

Couchman speculated that the man wandered up to the roof, became confused, and couldn't relocate the doorway that would lead him back into the building.

"He was in a common sleeping position for him when I would come in and wake him up in the morning," Couchman said.

According to Couchman, there was a magnetic lock on the door leading to the roof that was left unsecure, perhaps after fire maintenance work on Friday. The lock is supposed to be secure at all times, Couchman said, and only open during a fire alarm.

In June, a resident apparently died in his room and was left unattended or unchecked upon for two weeks.

A phone call to the Batavia Housing Authority placed this morning seeking comment has not yet been returned. We will continue to update this story or post new stories as additional information becomes available.

Kyle Couchman

John... I think in one of the recent stories Mr. Molino distanced himself and the city from the housing authority. Even though he appoints the volunteer members of the board that governs it. I am not up to my normal habit of searching through the recent articles to find the statement but I'm pretty sure its there.

Oct 15, 2015, 3:14am Permalink
Bea McManis

Kyle's care and attention to Ralph should be noted. Kyle went above and beyond the duties of a caregiver. He became a loyal friend. Ralph loved to tell stories about his golf games and life in Florida. No doubt, those stories will be a wonderful reminder of the friendship they forged and provide Kyle with comforting memories in the future. My condolences to Ralph's family, friends and to Kyle.

Oct 15, 2015, 10:03am Permalink

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