Mother wants answers for child's death at facility

FLORENCE, SC (WIS) - Fantasia Franklin lived at the Pee Dee Regional Center in Florence for the last 12 years.

In December, she died and her death was ruled a homicide due to asphyxiation. Now, her mother is saying the staff at this facility has been negligent.

"Only thing I knew," Velisa Chatman Ward said, "an incident occurred with my daughter. She stopped breathing. The end result was death."

Ward said she's had no complaints about the facility for most of the time her daughter was in its care. However, she started to notice red flags the last two years of Fantasia's life.

"Started to get more phone calls, things that were going on at the facility," Ward said. "There was an incident where they left her at the facility by herself when they went on a field trip. Someone failed to do a head count."

In mid-December after an incident, Ward said her daughter was restrained in a Posey blanket. She believes someone either sat on Fantasia's chest or applied pressure cutting off her air supply.

"If the restraint process was done appropriately, then she would not have been injured and certainly would not have died," attorney John Clark said. "But because the employees were grossly negligent, reckless, maybe even acting intentionally, there was no need to do that."

But Ward still has questions.

"I want some answers," she said. "I want to know who did it. I want them to pay for it."

SLED is currently investigating the incident. There have been attempts to reach the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs for a comment, but so far there has been no response.

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