Justice Served: Caregiver Convicted for Tragic Death of Vulnerable Adult

An East Lansing caregiver, Colleen Kelly O’Connor, has been found guilty of second-degree vulnerable adult abuse, following the tragic freezing death of our 82-year-old client, Lois Cary. Convicted by a Clinton County jury, O’Connor now faces up to four years in prison.

The case centers around the death of Ms. Cary, a resident at Vista Springs Imperial Park. On December 23, 2022, during a severe blizzard, Ms. Cary wandered outside twice without appropriate clothing. O’Connor, who observed Ms. Cary’s attempts to leave, failed to intervene, resulting in Ms. Cary’s death from hypothermia.

Attorney General Nessel emphasized the critical responsibility of caregivers, stating, “This verdict does not undo the tragic loss of life, but we hope it serves as a reminder of the immense responsibility caregivers have.”

Despite efforts to save her, Ms. Cary was discovered partially buried in snow by a snowplow driver and succumbed to the cold. O’Connor’s attorney argued the incident was a “tragic accident” rather than a reckless act. Sentencing is set for July 28, where O’Connor will face Judge Cori E. Barkman in the 29th Circuit Court.

However, this tragedy is not solely the result of the actions of one caregiver. This tragedy highlights the systemic failures of a corporation that neglected its duty to protect Ms. Cary. The assisted living facility demonstrated a disregard for resident safety by failing to implement essential safeguards, such as securing and alarming exit doors, updating service plans, and ensuring adequate staff training and supervision. Their neglectful practices and lack of proper protocols created an environment where vulnerable residents like Ms. Cary were left unprotected, leading to her untimely and preventable death. What happened to Ms. Cary underscores the urgent need for corporate accountability and comprehensive reforms to safeguard all residents in such facilities.

As we move forward, we are committed to holding the assisted living facility accountable for their numerous failures in ensuring the safety and well-being of Ms. Cary. Our pursuit of justice includes addressing these grave oversights to prevent such tragedies in the future.

“Ms. Cary’s tragic death was entirely preventable, and it underscores the critical importance of rigorous standards and vigilant care in assisted living facilities,” said attorney Donna MacKenzie. “We are committed to holding this facility accountable for their egregious neglect and ensuring that they implement the necessary measures to protect their residents. No family should have to endure the pain and loss that Ms. Cary’s family has suffered.”