SLED investigates S.C. MENTOR group home death

State Law Enforcement Division agents are investigating the death of a 23-year-old man who had been left in the care of a Charleston area group home.

Charles William Noland, of Charleston, suffered a medical emergency Sept. 5 while residing at South Carolina MENTOR. The facility cares for intellectually and developmentally disabled adults, in addition to other services.

Paramedics transported Noland to Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital where he later died, Charleston County Deputy Coroner Dottie Lindsey said.

An autopsy was completed the following day, according to Lindsey. A cause of death, however, remains under investigation.

Further details surrounding the death were not immediately available Saturday. Lindsey declined to comment on the nature of the medical emergency or what may have brought it on, citing the ongoing investigation.

SLED began looking into the death immediately after it occurred, spokesman Thom Berry said.

“The facility is required by law to notify us,” Berry said. “We then began our investigation.”

South Carolina MENTOR was the subject of a similar investigation after an autistic man died while in its care in 2013.

Forrest Carlton, 22, of Charleston wandered from the facility and was fatally struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run around 3 a.m. Dec. 8 of that year.

A wrongful death suit filed by Carlton’s father alleged negligence on the part of the group home.

Carlton tried to wander from the facility at least four times since moving into the facility in November 2012, alleged Nathan Hughey, an attorney for Carlton’s family. The home’s staff failed to heighten its supervision accordingly, he said.

The facility reached a confidential settlement last year with Carlton’s family.

In a statement released Saturday, Stan Butkus, South Carolina MENTOR’s state director, said he was “devastated” by the latest “unexpected” death of an individual in its program.

“As an organization we are committed to continuous quality improvement and place great emphasis on safe environments and providing services that are responsive to the needs of the individuals we are privileged to serve,” Butkus said. “Our staff provides care according to each person’s individual service plan which describes the type of assistance, supervision and structure that each person requires.”

The facility’s staff receive CPR and first aid training to ensure the safety of those in its care, Butkus said.

“As a matter of course, we are required to report the death of any individual receiving services to SLED and we are working cooperatively with them in their review of this matter,” Butkus said.

Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908.