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EXCLUSIVE: ‘He was helpless,’ says family of nursing home resident who died in Ida warehouse evacuation

Coroner releases six names of those who died after nursing home owner evacuated over 800 people to an Independence warehouse
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 10:30 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Family members of Timothy Porter, 52, are furious and desperate for answers as to how their loved one died after being evacuated to a Tangipahoa warehouse with over 800 other nursing home residents.

The residents were from seven different nursing homes all owned by Bob Dean.

15 people died, seven were classified as storm-related. Of those seven, three died after the evacuation, four died inside of the warehouse. One of them was Porter.

“I knew it was Tim, I just knew it was Tim,” Glen Jones said.

Jones found out his nephew Porter was dead through footage on national TV. He recognized Porter’s leg in a video and put two and two together when Governor John Bel Edwards said a 52-year-old man from Orleans Parish was among the dead.

He lives in Atlanta and was going to get Porter from River Palm nursing home in Algiers three days before the storm.

“They said they had moved him, I said, moved him where? Who did you tell? The lady didn’t know where they had moved them,” Jones said.

Porter was moved to a warehouse in Independence, crammed in with over 800 other nursing home residents, lying on a mattress, helpless.

Jones says Porter couldn’t move but he could communicate with blinks and nods. He had brain damage from a car accident in Atlanta several years earlier when he went into a vegetative state for 30 days.

The doctors said he wasn’t going to recover, but Jones said his nephew, a loving father of two, wanted to live.

“I looked in his eyes and I said, ‘oh, no, no, no, no, Tim is not in a vegetative state,’” Jones recalled. “In fact, when I moved toward the window, he turned his head toward me.”

Jones has a nursing background and cared for Porter in his own home for the next several years.

He says the only reason Porter was in River Palm was because his mother in Bogalusa fell ill this year and he wanted to be close.

Jones says Porter then fell ill, himself, and needed that round the clock care, but he was not a dying man.

“He never wanted to be in a nursing home. That is the one thing that keeps sticking in my head,” Jones said.

The thought of what his nephew went through haunts Jones. He says the family only knows his death was storm-related, they don’t know what exactly contributed to his death.

Jones says one of the nurses inside the Independence warehouse told him Porter was covered in ants and that he was dead on the mattress for several hours because rigor mortis set in and he started to decompose as well.

“He wasn’t able to express his emotions and the bugs, I just couldn’t believe that you don’t know how that does something to me, and to have someone die like that, I mean, clearly he died in pain because she said there was no morphine,” Jones said. “They didn’t use anything. They could barely get to all of them... the feces and urine.”

Porter’s family does plan to file a lawsuit, joining several other families who have done the same.

The state has revoked dean’s licenses for all seven of Dean’s facilities, but his attorney says he plans to appeal.

FOX 8 reached out to Dean’s attorney for a response to this story, but have not heard back.

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