Mom Settles With Facility Over Son's Restraint Death
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 3, 2006
ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA--Mark Draheim's mother, Marsha, has settled a lawsuit against the facility where her son was fatally restrained nearly eight years ago.
The 14-year-old died on December 11, 1998, while he resided at a treatment facility for troubled youths operated by KidsPeace National Center for Kids in Crisis Inc. A coroner determined that Mark died from "compression asphyxia" when he was physically restrained by counselors. But the county prosecutor decided not to file charges against the counselors because the teen's death was ruled an accident.
Allegations that Mark was raped while at the facility were also dropped after state police said they could not substantiate those claims.
Ms. Draheim filed the civil suit against KidsPeace and counselors Craig Bleiler and Daniel Zeigler, claiming the restraint technique they used caused her son's death, and that the facility failed to protect him from sexual abuse by other residents, and follow up on evidence that he had been abused.
Under the settlement, which was agreed upon in May and approved by a court last week, Draheim will receive $30,000 a year over the next 30 years, for a total of $1.4 million.
"I think organizations that provide child residential care, such as KidsPeace, have an obligation to do better," said Marsha Draheim's attorney, Ralph J. Bellafatto. "They act as substitute parents in this situation, and their obligations are commensurate with that responsibility."
Five years before Mark died, 12-year-old Jason Tallman, who had autism, died when he was restrained just one day after arriving at the facility. The counselor who was involved in that restraint was later acquitted of involuntary manslaughter.
The restraint technique used on Tallman was replaced by a separate method that was later used on Draheim. That technique was reportedly discontinued in 2000. A KidsPeace official told the Morning Call that that system has been replaced by one which emphasizes de-escalation and a restraint technique that "as far as humanly possible avoids putting any pressure on the respiratory system."
"Settlement reached in fatal restraint case" (The Morning Call)