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Former Pensacola Developmental Center employee speaks on man who died in hot van

WEAR – Mobile-Pensacola logo WEAR – Mobile-Pensacola 7/2/2022 John Rupolo
© Provided by WEAR – Mobile-Pensacola

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- A former van driver at the Pensacola Developmental Center says it was driver negligence that caused the death of a 66-year-old-disabled man.

66-year-old Jerome Sanders was found dead inside a hot van at the developmental center last week.

Caption: WEAR

The former employee says procedures were not followed which lead to Sanders' death.

"They made mistakes, they did not check," the former employee said.

The former employee didn't want her identity revealed but says she was a van driver at the Pensacola Developmental Center for several months last year. 

The medical examiner claims Sanders died of Hyperthermia.

"Because if they checked that van he would be alive today," the former employee said. 

The former employee says one of her jobs was to transport clients from the Pensacola Developmental Center to Pyramid Inc. for day classes, the same place Sanders was supposed to be dropped off last Wednesday morning.

The former employee says she was trained to write down names of the clients who entered the van, and check off the names of those who got off. She said she was told to check the van after the clients got off.

Channel 3 sent an email to the owners of the Pensacola Developmental Center, Florida Mentor, asking about their polices and procedures for van drivers.

They released this statement:

We continue to conduct our internal review and cannot offer additional comment at this time.

Escambia County Sheriff's Chip Simmons says Sanders was found to be missing when another van returned to Pyramid to pick up clients Wednesday afternoon.

Pyramid workers told investigators Sanders was never there that day.

Investigators believe Sanders never got off the van in the morning, returned to Pensacola Developmental Center, and stayed in the van all day, unnoticed.

Channel 3 asked Pyramid about why the facility didn't notice Sanders never arrived for his classes. They never responded.

Sanders' family told Channel 3 this week they believe both facilities, Pyramid Inc and the Pensacola Developmental Center, are responsible for his death.

"Had there been communication with Pyramid and with PDC, maybe my brother would be here," Gloria Boler, Sanders' sister said. 

The Escambia County Sheriff's Office says they are not ruling out pressing charges in the case as their investigation continues.

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