Teen's death on I-10 renews push for more mental health care - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Teen's death on I-10 renews push for more mental health care

Updated:
A crash on I-10 killed a teen pedestrian A crash on I-10 killed a teen pedestrian

New Orleans, La. - Margie Conner battled to get her grandson, Jeremiah Williams, the treatment he needed.

"Jeremiah was a slow-learning kid from the beginning," says Conner. "I fought with Jeremiah for my child to where he is now, to give him whatever proper help or whatever that he needed and I saw progress."

Now Conner is struggling to find out what happened his the final minutes before the 13-year old boy's death.

State police say a van taking Williams back to Southeast Louisiana Hospital pulled over on I-10 because of an altercation.  Investigators say child locks were set on the back doors, but Williams climbed into the front passenger seat and got out.

The young teen ran across five lanes of traffic, then back.  A tow truck hit and killed him.

Crisis Intervention Specialist Cecile Tebo thinks the teen should have been restrained.

"When I transported with the NOPD Crisis Unit, all of my folks, even if they looked great and were compliant, they still went into leather restraints because it was safe for them and also, it was safe for us," says Tebo.

The Department of Health and Hospitals says its investigation into what happened still under way.

A spokesperson wouldn't comment on whether Williams had been restrained or what the department's policy is for transporting patients to a mental health facility.

Tebo says the teen's death illustrates a bigger problem.  Williams had to travel from LaPlace to Mandeville, more than 50 miles, for treatment.

"It's crazy, especially that children, are having to be sent out of the community to get mental health care," she says.

DHH says it's working on an agreement with Southeast to keep the facility open and provide care closer to New Orleans.  Four providers said they would take over the services offered by the hospital. 

Most of the beds would remain at the facility in Mandeville under the care of Meridian Behavioral Health.  Two hospitals in New Orleans, Community Care and River Oaks, also said they would add beds for inpatient care.

DHH says the arrangements should be in place before the state's December 31 deadline. 

It comes too late for the Williams' family.  "Whatever went down in that van to upset him, I don't know," says Conner. "But I need answers to what happened."

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