The father of a severely autistic man who died last summer after being left in a hot van is suing the Bucks County agency where it happened.
William Nevins filed his lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia, seeking more than $5 million in damages from Woods Services, a Middletown agency that provides housing and other services for the disabled. Bryan Nevins, who was 20 years old but had the mental capability of a two-year-old, died from the heat on Saturday, July 24, following a field trip to Sesame Place. At 97 degrees, it was one of the hottest days of the summer. The suit also names 42-year-old counselor Stacey Strauss of Philadelphia, who is serving two to five years in state prison for involuntary manslaughter and neglecting a care-dependent person. Cell phone records show that she spent more than three hours of her eight-hour shift talking on the phone and sent or received 71 text messages, all in violation of Woods Services regulations, and the victim probably died during a 44-minute conversation she had with her boyfriend during the noon hour. The lawsuit says Strauss had been disciplined in the past for being inattentive to clients and using her personal cell phone at work.