UPDATE: State has investigated Orange Grove client deaths before - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

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UPDATE: State has investigated Orange Grove client deaths before

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Orange Grove resident Carrie Parkey in a photo provided by OGC. Orange Grove resident Carrie Parkey in a photo provided by OGC.
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: A Channel 3 investigation has revealed the recent death of an Orange Grove client is the latest in a string of unexpected deaths.

Nearly two weeks ago, 60-year-old Carrie Parkey was found dead inside a transport van. His death marks the 10th the state has investigated since 2001.

It's still not clear how Carrie Parkey died, but after his death Channel 3 wanted to know if the state has ever investigated other deaths connected to Orange Grove. 

It turns out the center, which serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has been a part of nine investigations since 2001. Two included cases of neglect. 

"Whenever there's a death here regardless of the cause, it's very tragic for our staff as well because we do become family to lots and lots of these folks," Orange Grove Center Development Director Heidi Hoffecker said.

This isn't the first death the state has looked into at an Orange Grove facility.

In 2001, a report shows a resident was found not breathing. A house manager resigned after investigators found staff members neglected to give the man his medications as ordered.

Nearly 10 years later in April of 2011, a resident died after choking on a peanut butter sandwich.

State investigators determined the man was neglected because he was not being properly watched.

A nurse was placed on administrative leave and then fired.

Hoffecker said Orange Grove does not take situations like this lightly.

"Orange Grove takes very seriously the health and welfare and safety of all the individuals we serve," Hoffecker said.

Since 2001, there have been 7 other death investigations.

State investigators found no evidence of wrongdoing by Orange Grove employees in those cases. Hoffecker said staff members are screened extensively and continually trained.

The state requires employees to report any suspicious deaths within four hours of becoming aware.

It's still not clear if there are allegations of abuse or neglect connected to Carrie Parkey's death. Investigators are still waiting on autopsy results. 

Documents from the state also show there have been nearly 200 allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation lodged against Orange Grove since 2012.

More than a third were substantiated by investigators.


UPDATE: A state agency is now part of the investigation into the death of a man whose body was found outside an Orange Grove Center group home.

The Orange Grove Center says that the bus driver has been placed on suspension, pending the investigation's outcome, Channel 3 has learned.

Chattanooga police said 60-year-old Carrie Parkey was found inside a van.

Detectives were conducting a follow-up investigation on Lillian Court piecing together what led to Carrie Parkey's death.

A death down the street from Doris Moon has her wondering how this happened.

"I think it's sad and it's awful that it happened. I just don't understand how he got left like that on the bus," Doris Moon, a neighbor said.

An Orange Grove Center employee found Parkey dead seven hours after he was marked absent from his day facility.

Chattanooga police and now the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities are investigating what happened.

Detectives said a report from the Hamilton County Medical Examiner's Office may give some answers.

"The medical examiner's office will provide a report that will tell us what caused the death or the probable cause of death and that's very important in this case," Sgt. Victor Miller of the Chattanooga Police Department said.

Orange Grove contracts with the state.

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities provides oversight and some money to the center.

State officials said they usually get involved when there are allegations like abuse or neglect, but it's unclear what this case falls under.

"I hope it wasn't intentionally, but if it was an accident, I hope it never happens again," Moon said.

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities' protection from harm investigators are now working with police.

Officials said their role is to talk with supervisors, people working at the center, and those living in this group home.

Moon is thinking about Parkey's family during this difficult time.

"I hope they make it through this okay," Moon said.

Parkey was an Orange Grove resident for more than 40 years.

The Hamilton County Medical Examiner's Office is performing an autopsy.

Police said that's because of the suspicious nature Parkey was found. That autopsy could take somewhere between six to eight weeks pending a toxicology report to complete.


PREVIOUS STORY: Local and state agencies are investigating a death after a body was found inside of an Orange Grove van outside one of their group homes. An employee found the body seven hours after he was marked absent from his day facility. 

An Orange Grove employee discovered the body of 60-year-old Carrie Lee Parkey inside the van around 3:00 Tuesday afternoon. Police are now investigating what happened between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. that caused him to die.

“He has been receiving services and has been a member of the Orange Grove family for a very long time. Since the 70's,” said the Director of Development, Heidi Hoffecker.

The Orange Grove community has a missing piece. A resident of more than 40 years was found dead inside one of the center's transport vans. “Transported from the home, to the location to his day program for the day services.”

Investigators surrounded the Lillian Court group home, trying to piece together exactly what happened. “We are speaking with individuals who work at the facility and who drive the van,” said Chattanooga Police spokeswoman Elisa Myzal.

The Orange Grove Center serves adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The man lived with an in-house provider along with seven other residents. “A staff member who found him, is somebody who works with this individual, who knows this individual,” said Hoffecker.

Center officials worked to contact the families of the other residents about what happened. And tried to explain the situation to everyone who called Parkey a friend. “Obviously this is very difficult for us, and we are very upset and we will all grieve for the loss of this individual.”

Hoffecker isn't aware anything like this has happened in the center's 60 plus year history. They said they are fully cooperating with police.

Chattanooga police aren't sure if foul play is involved. There were no visible signs of trauma to the victim's body, however due to the suspicious nature of how he was found, an autopsy will be performed by the Hamilton County Medical Examiner’s office to determine the cause of death. 


A death investigation is underway at an Orange Grove home, after a body was found in a van Tuesday afternoon.

The 911 center received the call at 2:50 p.m. from the 3500 block of Lillian Court.

Chattanooga police tell Channel 3, a black man in his 50s was found inside a van at the home, which is operated by Orange Grove Center. The man has been a resident with Orange Grove since the 70s.

His cause of death is under investigation.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

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