Police: Lack of communication key in investigation of patient’s death

Coroner Rae Wooten and North Charleston Police Capt. Scott Perry, standing outside the coroner’s office Thursday afternoon, ask for help finding the family of Leverne Reed, who was found dead in a North Charleston marsh Saturday.

A man whose body was found in a marsh last weekend was unaccounted for and possibly wandering the streets of North Charleston for nine days because of a lack of communication between an area hospital and a residential-care facility, according to a police report released Thursday.

Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten called on the public at a Thursday news conference to help locate the family of Leverne Reed, 63, but declined to say where he lived except that it was in North Charleston.

Reed’s name and the names of the hospital and care facility he was in were blacked out in the police report released after the news conference.

North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor did not return an email asking for the names of the facilities.

It’s uncertain how or when Reed died, Wooten said. An initial autopsy showed no immediate indication of foul play.

A care provider at the facility told police that she contacted an ambulance service on April 9 to take Reed to the hospital after he had a seizure, the report states. She gave emergency medical technicians a medical release form so that the care facility would be contacted by the hospital prior to his release, according to the report.

However, Reed was released the same day from the hospital and his caretaker said that the care facility was never contacted. She also said that no one from the facility called the hospital to follow up on Reed’s condition or status, according to the report.

Reed’s body was found about 3 p.m. Saturday off Quitman Street in the Chicora community, nine days after he was released from the hospital. North Charleston police were called after a man in the area noticed an unresponsive man lying in the marsh about a half mile from the Cooper River.

Wooten said at the news conference that Reed was last seen alive April 9 by a cab driver who dropped him off at Rivers Avenue and Dorchester Road.

For five days after his body was discovered, police would not say whether foul play was suspected or release the incident report.

Wooten said she asked police to withhold Reed’s identity while she tried to find family members but gave up her search and released it Thursday to enlist the public’s help.

The police report states that the focal point of the investigation after Reed’s body was found was the lack of communication between the care facility and hospital.

The owner of the care facility, whose name was also redacted from the police report, told officers that Reed had lived there since July 2014. The owner also told police that once a hospital takes custody of a resident, it is the hospital’s responsibility to have them taken back to the facility, the report states.

The owner told police that the facility does not follow up with the hospital to determine the location or condition of a resident.

Reed did not have any emergency contact information at the care facility, the owner said, adding that family had never been there to visit. Reed had spoken of a mother and sister during his time at the facility, the owner said, but neither were known.

Anyone who can help find his family or give a clue how he ended up in the marsh is asked to call the coroner’s office at 746-4030.

Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughton.