Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.

LITTLE SILVER WOMAN’S DEATH PROBED

An investigation has been launched in Hunterdon County into the death of a disabled Little Silver woman who died two months after being removed from a state-licensed home for developmentally disabled adults, today’s Star-Ledger reports.

Twenty-six-year-old Tara Leary, who was born with scoliosis, fluid on the brain and cerebral palsy, weighed 48 pounds at the time of her death on November 10. Her death came two months after the state Division of Developmental Disabilities removed her and two housemates from their caretaker’s home in Bloomsbury following a report of mistreatment, the newspaper reports.

From the article:

In a press conference yesterday, O’Leary’s relatives and three Monmouth County lawmakers said the state “hindered” family members’ attempts to visit O’Leary and to play a larger role in the disabled woman’s life.

“We were told she was being well taken care of in a family that loved her,” said O’Leary’s cousin, Eileen Devlin of Little Silver. “Instead she laid in a bed starving and not cared for.”

Assemblywoman Carolyn Casagrande (R-Monmouth), who attended the news conference at Devlin’s home, urged the state attorney general to investigate and the Department of Human Services to fire the employees involved.

“From the top down, everyone needs to answer for Tara O’Leary’s death here,” Casagrande said.

O’Leary’s caseworker has been suspended, as has the caregiver’s state license.

Human Services spokeswoman Pam Ronan said the state’s investigation began Sept. 11, when officials received a tip describing “concerns about the care” of three disabled people living in the home. The state removed all three residents that day. The other disabled residents were not ill or injured.

The state is investigating whether the caseworker made the required monthly visits to the caretaker’s home and the bi-monthly face-to-face check on the disabled people living there, Ronan said.

“We are looking at all events and care of the individual during the time she lived at the home and to the time of her passing,” she said.

More:

O’Leary moved into the Bloomsbury home in 1998. During a doctor’s visit in September 2007, she weighed 95 pounds, thin but not alarmingly so for a woman who stood just 4-foot-10.

Devlin said her cousin suffered needlessly because the people supervising her case didn’t pay attention. No one noticed she had been absent from a day program for two years, or that she never had a court-recognized guardian.

A relative who was expected to take guardianship after O’Leary’s father died three years ago did not, leading to confusion about legal guardianship. Family members said they were not permitted to visit her inside the home, or even to know its location.

After O’Leary’s hospitalization, she gained more than 20 pounds with a feeding tube, but her condition remained serious. She was removed from life support Nov. 7.

“She was emaciated,” Devlin said. “She was in pain, even on morphine.”

And:

O’Leary’s deterioration and death, made public yesterday by family members and lawmakers, has spawned a criminal investigation by the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office and an internal probe by the state Department of Human Services.

In addition, state workers will visit 620 similar homes — each state-funded and state-licensed — to ensure the safety of the 1,253 disabled adults living in them, Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez said.

“Our sincerest condolences are with the family during this difficult time,” Velez said in a statement. “This death is unacceptable on many levels, and we’re doing all we can to scrutinize every aspect and prevent tragedies such as this from occurring again.”

Email this story

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
TAR BEACH SOLSTICE
Aldo Quiroz of Ocean Township came ready with his beach chair and found a shady spot to spend his lunch hour in a parking lot off Broad Stre ...
GOING GREY
Workers painting the stone facade of the PNC Bank at the corner of Broad and Harding Thursday morning. An upgrade? Maybe it’s just pri ...
COFFEE & WILDLIFE
RED BANK: The best wildlife show in town can be taken in from a waterfront bench outside the public library, and it's totally free.
FAWNING OVER HER BABY
A mother deer and her fawn were spotted between a row of garages on Hudson Avenue and some trees alongside the Broad Street parking lots. Re ...
EVENING ESCAPE
RED BANK: Sailors in Monmouth Boat Club's weekly racing series found tranquil conditions on the Navesink River Tuesday evening.
PEAK COLOR ON BROAD
RED BANK: A year after they were installed, downtown mini gardens have added to "transformational" improvements, says business owner.
RED BANK: FAIRIES MOVE IN ON WHITE STREET
Red Bank: Girl scouts turns tiny parking lot plot of dirt into a "magical girls sparkle garden."
TRAINING UNDER FIRE
RED BANK: Volunteer firefighters train to cut into pitched roofs under active fire conditions.
“SUPERMOM” WANTS YOUR VOTE
Business owner. Dyed in the wool, lifelong Red Banker. Mother of six. Yup, seems like Anita Pierce does it all. In other words, she’s ...
SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS
RED BANK: Town prepares for Saturday's Pride in the Park celebration with another lawn art design by public works supervisor and Fire Chief ...
MOVIES VIA LIBRARY
RED BANK: Public Library now offers members access to streaming movies via Kanopy, with some 30,000 titles and tons of content for kids.
NEW RAINBOW CROSSWALK ON BROWN PLACE
Kicking off pride month, some Brown Place and Spring Street residents, ages 5 to 11, constructed a rainbow crosswalk with chalk over the wee ...
WHAT TO WEAR?
RED BANK: Dressmakers' mannequins appeared to mull what to wear as they looked down on Monmouth Street last week.
SYMPHONY RETURNS JUNE 29
RED BANK: An annual crowd pleaser returns June 29 with a free concert in Marine Park by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, RiverCenter said ...
Heard on the Green
Heard on the Green
DUCK RESCUE EFFORT
Duckling rescue attempt underway in sewer at East Front and Broad, 10:29 a.m.
HOUSING CRUNCH
Demolition begins for new apartments at Globe Court and Mechanic Street.
FEELING SNAPPY
      Snapping Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs this time of year and are a common site along the Swimming River waterfr ...
TUB TIME
RED BANK: A sparrow waits for the next available dirt tub while two others take their Sunday baths. (Click for video.)
CHECK IT OUT
A bench outside the Red Bank Public Library provided a serene view of our beautiful Navesink River Monday evening.