Investigation underway after disabled woman left in hot van for hours


by Andrew Horansky / KHOU 11 News

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 24 at 6:27 PM

Sean Ashley House

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HOUSTON – A disabled woman left in a hot van for five hours Tuesday is still clinging to life, according to relatives.

Rebekah Harkins, 57, was found unconscious and severely dehydrated in the back of the van.

She is autistic, can’t speak and suffers from a heart condition.

The van driver was supposed to take her to Sean Ashley House, an adult day care in the 5600 block of Parkersburg Drive. The facility provides services for the disabled.

A caregiver found Harkins in the van parked outside the facility where temperatures had soared into the 90s.

Both the Texas Department of Aging and Disability and Adult Protective Services are looking into the matter. No charges have been filed involving possible neglect.

Two years ago, there was a similar case near Philadelphia. A 41-year old caregiver was sentenced to prison on charges of involuntary manslaughter involving a 20-year old autistic man.

He had baked in a van for more than 5 hours on one of the summer’s hottest days before he was found. He didn’t survive.

A spokesperson with Sean Ashley said they are sending thoughts to the Harkins family and cooperating fully with authorities.