Racine group home faces multiple violations after investigation

RACINE (WITI) -- A group home in Racine is facing multiple violations after a mentally disabled patient wandered away from the facility and was found dead days later.

57-year-old Ruben Santos walked away from True Life Homes in December. The man suffered from a traumatic brain injury and personality disorder. Five days later his body was discovered outside in a wooded area. The Medical Examiner's report says Santos died as a result of hypothermia.

Newly released documents reveal more information on the incident that's prompted a state investigation. The 14-page report outlines several violations at the facility.

State investigators say the only caregiver on duty at the time Santos wandered off was suffering from digestion issues. The worker went to the restroom at midnight and allegedly told Santos to stay seated on a couch.

When the caregiver returned, Santos was gone from the room. The woman allegedly assumed her patient had gone to bed, so she decided to eat dinner. During a routine check an hour later, it was clear Santos wasn't in the building.

After searching the facility's basement and garage, footprints in the snow indicated Santos had walked out the front door.

Family members searched for days in the hopes of finding the man.

"We wouldn't be going through this if they had been following the rules," said Santos' daughter, Rosa Ramos.

The state is now handing down a series of violations against the facility. Officials say Santos was not monitored properly, the door alarm was not on, and the caregiver did not immediately notify management or Santos' family when it was discovered he was missing.

Furthermore, the worker didn't immediately request additional staff to supervise the three other residents inside the home so she could look for Santos around the neighborhood.

Records show 911 wasn't called until 31 minutes after Santos went missing.

As a result of the violations, True Life Homes is not allowed to admit any new or additional residents. Managers must also submit a plan to the state outlining how it will correct these errors in the future.

FOX6 reached out to True Life Homes -- officials there declined to comment on the situation.

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