An aide at the state’s Tryon Residential Facility who was attacked by a teen resident in July suffered a stroke last week and is in a coma, his union representative said Tuesday.
The employee was identified by the union president as Charles Loftly, of Utica, a youth development aide.
Michael Geraghty, president of Local 559 of the Civil Service Employees Association, said Loftly was struck in the back of the head with a piece of wood by a male resident at Tryon on July 16.
Loftly did not lose consciousness but did go to the hospital after the attack. He returned to Tryon later that day to fill out worker’s compensation documents, Geraghty said.
Late last week, Loftly suffered a stroke, and he is in a coma in a Utica hospital, according to Geraghty. He said it is not known if the attack in July and the stroke are related.
“Only an autopsy would be able to determine the actual cause and effect, whether it was natural causes or trauma-induced,” he said. “My concern would obviously be if it turned out to be trauma-induced.”
According to the state police, a 16-year-old Tryon resident, Randall Bell, was responsible for the attack. He was arrested on July 16 and charged with second-degree assault, a felony.
Bell remained in the Fulton County Correctional Facility Tuesday evening on $2,500 cash or $5,000 bond bail, according to jail officials.
State police said the assault happened in Bell’s housing unit. They said Bell removed a piece of wood from a desk and struck Loftly in the back of the head.
Geraghty said Loftly was attacked in an apparent escape attempt orchestrated by at least three Tryon residents. Police said Bell was the only one charged with the attack.
Tryon is run by the state Office of Children and Family Services. OCFS spokeswoman Susan Steele confirmed that Loftly was placed on worker’s compensation on July 16 but would not discuss any details of the incident. “At this point in time, I think we need to focus our energy on the [Loftly] family and his coworkers,” Steele said. “Whatever’s down the road, we will certainly cooperate fully with whatever that may be.”
“The entire OCFS family is keeping the Loftly family in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time,” she said. “When we learned of his stroke, we immediately dispatched a grief team and a crisis team to assist the coworkers at Tryon.”
Steele said that OCFS officials also met with the Loftly family in Utica on Monday.
Neither Steele nor Geraghty was able to provide Loftly’s age or other details about him, although Geraghty said he had worked at Tryon since 1984.
Several Utica-area hospitals contacted Tuesday either did not return calls regarding Loftly’s status or said he was not a patient there.
The Tryon Residential Facility houses about 150 boys and girls ages 10 to 18 from across the state who have been found guilty of various crimes.
The assault on Loftly was only the latest in a series of problems at Tryon.
An investigation found that 15-year-old Tryon resident Darryl Thompson died in 2006 from heart arrhythmia caused by stress after being restrained by staff members. No criminal charges were filed in the case.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice said it is investigating alleged civil rights violations by employees against residents at Tryon, but officials would not say what prompted the investigation.
Union leaders have said that there has been increasing violence against employees at Tryon in recent months.
“We’re concerned for the health and safety of everyone on this side of the fence, the residents and staff,” Geraghty said.