The following article was published on Lake & McHenry County Scanner on August 4, 2022.
A lawsuit has been filed against an assisted living facility in Gurnee after an 82-year-old man with dementia went missing from the facility and drowned. Attorneys said it was “entirely preventable.”
Jimmy Hedrich, 82, was reported missing early in the morning on July 30, 2021.
Hedrich resided at Gurnee Place Memory Care, located at 505 Hunt Club Road in Gurnee.
The man had dementia and was last seen walking away from the facility, which is near Hunt Club Road and Washington Street, police said at the time.
An Endangered Missing Person Advisory was issued for Hedrich.
The Gurnee Police Department also issued an alert asking residents to check the area around where they live for the missing man.
Police canines were used to aid in the search.
A person called 911 three days later on August 2, 2021, after spotting a body in a pond at Washington Street and Hillview Drive in Gurnee.
Authorities retrieved the body from the pond and the Lake County Coroner’s Office confirmed it was Hedrich.
The man’s cause of death was drowning and the coroner’s office said his death was not considered suspicious in nature.
A lawsuit was filed in Lake County Circuit Court on Tuesday against the memory care facility.
The lawsuit said Hedrich was known to pace the hallways at Gurnee Place and was at risk for elopement.
On the day Hedrich went missing, an exit door was broken and did not latch or alarm, the lawsuit alleged.
An employee had reportedly exited the door to throw out garbage and did not secure or latch the broken door, which was used by Hedrich a short time later to leave the facility.
Daniel Smart, an attorney for Dudley and Lake in Libertyville, told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that the incident was “entirely preventable.”
“The facility failed to have proper measures in place that would have prevented Mr. Hedrich’s elopement from the facility,” Smart said.
Smart, who represents Hedrich’s estate, said his firm is seeking to hold the facility accountable for its “negligence and recklessness” that resulted in the “unimaginable tragedy.”
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money in excess of $50,000.
A conference hearing is scheduled for November 8 in the case.