Darrell Cochran and Patrick Brown settled a case against the Department of Social and Health Services and its Division of Developmental Disability institution, known as Rainier School, for $2.25 million. The lawsuit involved the death of an adult developmentally disabled man who was negligently supervised and wandered away from the facility in the winter. His body has never been found, sadly.
In October 2013, Joel, a young adult with autism spectrum disorder, was placed at Rainier School in Buckley, Washington. The young man required 24-hour adult supervision and care due to his developmental disabilities and history of eloping. However, between 2016 and 2020, Joel eloped at least six times.
On Jan. 31, 2020, after returning from a family visit, Joel eloped once again. Police attempted to search for the young man as winds picked up and temperatures dropped. However, he was unable to be found and has since been presumed deceased.
While the multi-million-dollar settlement may provide some economic relief to Joel’s family, nothing will bring Joel back. Our hope is that the lawsuit will spark change at Rainier School so that what happened to Joel will never happen to anyone else.
Additional media coverage on the settlement.
King 5, “Family, advocates call for shutting down Washington facility after resident with Autism disappears“