For the second time in the past two weeks, an elderly Minnesota man has died after wandering away from a senior-care facility late at night.
Robert Martini, a 78-year-old man who suffered from dementia, left the Cornerstone Commons assisted-living facility on Dec. 11 and fell outside, sustaining a head injury. About 3 a.m., Plymouth police officers found him in a wheelchair inside the facility, breathing but unresponsive and with an abrasion on his head. Martini was taken by ambulance to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale and died six days later, according to a police report.
Plymouth Police Chief Mike Goldstein said Martini's prolonged exposure to "the outdoor elements" may have played a role in his death, and said his department has launched a comprehensive investigation. The department has not ruled out the possibility of criminal charges, he added. "He was outside longer than he should have been," Goldstein said, declining to be more specific. Temperatures in the Twin Cities dipped below 15 degrees on the morning that Martini fell outside.
"It's a very unfortunate situation for the family and for the care facility, and we hope something like this never happens again," Goldstein said. "It's a tragic event that could have been and should have been prevented."
Citing privacy concerns, officials at Cornerstone Commons declined to disclose any details surrounding Martini's death. "This incident is not representative of the care and service we provide," the facility said in a prepared statement. "While privacy laws prevent us from discussing details, we take this very seriously and immediately began conducting an internal investigation."
An obituary posted online by an area funeral home said Robert "Hup" Martini had been an engineer for 30 years and was survived by three children and three grandchildren. One of his sons, Lee Martini, said his father had shown early signs of dementia.
Martini's fall occurred just eight days before another elderly man, Thomas LeCloux, went missing late at night from his assisted-living apartment at Boutwells Landing Senior Living in Oak Park Heights, near Stillwater. LeCloux, 77, was found dead early the next morning on a walking path about a half-mile from the large, 490-unit senior living complex. Local police, firefighters and a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter were involved in a search for him.
The Minnesota Department of Health investigates deaths at senior-care facilities in the state when there is suspicion of maltreatment or abuse. The agency does not track deaths of people who wander from senior-care facilities, but elder care advocates say such incidents are not uncommon.