Southwest Idaho Treatment Center

The Southwest Idaho Treatment Center houses residents in Nampa.

Chris Bronson/IPT

NAMPA — A 27-year-old man found dead at the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center in Nampa in August was not checked on for nearly six hours before being discovered, according to a Canyon County Coroner’s report.

Drew Rinehart was found dead Aug. 20 at 11:29 a.m. “lying on his right side with his wrists and ankles bound and his face into a pillow,” according to Deputy Coroner Steve Rhodes’ report, obtained by the Idaho Press-Tribune through a public records request.

The cause of death was determined to be positional asphyxia, according to an autopsy report. Positional asphyxia occurs when a person’s body position prevents him from breathing.

Based on the condition of the body, Rhodes believed Rinehart had been dead for six to seven hours, according to his report.

However, Rhodes wrote that Nampa Police told him the treatment center records indicated Rinehart was given medication at 8 a.m. — just three-and-a-half hours before he was found dead.

Video footage of that night shows that no staff member entered Rinehart’s room anytime close to 8 a.m., according to the coroner report.

Nampa Police had reviewed the footage to see if anyone had gone into Rinehart’s room that night, because his body was found with socks binding his wrists and ankles, the report states.

The video shows Rinehart last entering his room at 7:45 p.m. on Aug. 19, the coroner report states. Rhodes said treatment center records showed Rinehart was to be checked on every 30 minutes throughout the night.

“Review of the video showed that even though the check sheet had been checked off and initialed, there were gaps between checks that were much longer than the 30 minutes,” his report states.

According to video footage, staff did not enter Rinehart’s room or check on him from 4:47 a.m. to 10:18 a.m., the report states, and no one physically entered his room until 11:29 a.m., when he was found dead.

The coroner report also states that video footage showed Rinehart was the only person who could have placed the socks around his wrists and ankles. The socks were not tight enough to have restrained Rinehart, who could have easily pulled his arms free, Rhodes wrote in his report.

“My impression was that he had placed the bindings on himself,” he wrote.

It is unclear how many staff members were supposed to check on Rinehart.

Nampa Police Detective Sgt. Donald Peck said a report from the Nampa Police Department has been sent over to the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, which oversees the treatment center, said because this incident is part of a pending law enforcement investigation, it cannot comment. A spokesman for the department initially said the department had not seen the coroner report.

The Southwest Idaho Treatment Center housed more than 40 residents in fiscal year 2016, offering services related to behavioral challenges and developmental disabilities. A string of incidents this year has raised concerns about the facility.

An investigation by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, which concluded in August, stated six former SWITC employees were either terminated or voluntarily left after it was determined they were involved in psychological and physical abuse of residents. The prosecuting attorney’s office is reviewing the findings from the Nampa Police Department’s investigation into the incident, which will determine if the former employees will face criminal charges. It is not known if Rinehart’s case is related to this investigation.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare was sued in August for the wrongful death of former resident, Moses Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s two-month stay at the facility included multiple hospitalizations and, the lawsuit alleges, problems with his medication. Rodriguez died a few days after leaving the treatment center’s care.

Emily Lowe is the public safety reporter. Follow @EmLoweJourno on Twitter


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