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Group Home Worker Charged In Resident’s Drowning

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(credit: Isanti County Sheriff's Office)

(credit: Isanti County Sheriff’s Office)

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BRAHAM, Minn. (WCCO) – A group home worker has been charged with manslaughter after a resident drowned after the employee allegedly left him alone in a bathtub.

Devra Cheyrle Stiles, 62, of Pine City, Minn. has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of 56-year-old Gerald Edward Hyska at a state-run group home in Braham, Minn.

According to the criminal complaint, Stiles was giving Hyska, who was in the group home because of spastic quadriplegia and blindness, a bath on the night of Aug. 28 when she left the bathroom to answer the phone.

When she returned, Hyska was underwater. Stiles told authorities she pulled Hyska from the bathtub and called 911 while administering CPR.

When an officer from the Braham Police Department arrived, he saw Stiles giving Hyska chest compressions on his back. The officer flipped him over and took over CPR until paramedics arrived. They transported Hyska to Cambridge Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

According to court papers, Stiles told police that she was only on the phone for one to two minutes before returning to the bathroom to find Hyska underwater. But according to phone records, Stiles was on the phone for more than six minutes.

Also, according to phone records, Stiles called authorities 31 minutes after hanging up from the first phone call.

The supervisor of the group home told investigators that Hyska’s risk management plan stated that Hyska was to “never be left alone during bathing procedures and is to be assisted by staff 24 hours a day.”

If convicted, Stiles faces up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

The Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, released the following statement about the incident:

“Our hearts go out to the family of the victim. The Department of Human Services is currently reviewing its policies and procedures to make certain we are doing everything we can to assure all in our care are safe.

“The employee involved in the case is no longer with the Department of Human Services effective Sept. 28, 2011. Due to state law that protects employee privacy, we are unable to say more about her employment at this time. We are working with the Isanti County Attorney’s office and the Department of Public Safety in this tragic case.”

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