Family of drowned Arc of Acadiana resident speaks out

Family of drowned Arc of Acadiana resident speaks out
Pam's older brother, Rick, and sister-in-law, Joy, went to the Arc of Acadiana to fill up a trailer with Pam's belongings.
Pam's older brother, Rick, and sister-in-law, Joy, went to the Arc of Acadiana to fill up a trailer with Pam's belongings.

The family of a woman who died at a local group home is speaking publicly for the first time.

Pamela Owens was found dead more than a week ago in a bayou behind the Arc of Acadiana in Bossier. It's a facility that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"Her personality came from her heart, is what touched us so much and changed our lives," said Joy Owens, the sister-in-law of Pamela or "Pam."

Pam's family is looking for closure and to get there, they want answers as to what led to their little sister's death.

"My first thought when this happened was, Pam did not deserve for her life to end this way," said Joy. With heavy hearts, Pam's older brother Rick and sister-in-law Joy, went to the Arc of Acadiana-Northwest to fill up a trailer with her belongings.

"Why did this happened, whose responsible? What needs to be done to prevent this from happening again? Very importantly, are any of the residents, are they at risk?" asked Pam's older brother Rick Owens.

A police report KSLA News 12 obtained through the family, gives insight into what exactly happened the night Pam died.

According to the report, police interviewed the two caregivers, assigned to Pam's building that night. Both are in their early 20's, neither are being charged by bossier police. But in the interviews with police, they admitted to spending much of the night talking, watching movies and listening to music with head phones on. One manager told police, had they done their 15 minute resident checks, they would have noticed Pam was missing sooner.

Police also questioned the two overnight caregivers about why the working back door alarm didn't alert them when Pam went through it. Neither could give a clear answers.

"It definitely indicates there were some individuals that could have prevented this," said Rick.

Moving forward, the family members say they do not want to see the Arc close but want to make sure that caregivers are taking their job seriously by monitoring residents correctly. They say it takes a special type of person to care for the disabled, and through Pam's life, she had plenty of caregivers that were just that -- special.

"At Pam's funeral, we were blown away by the number of caregivers that showed up and came to the funeral and grieved with us," said Rick.

After their investigation, the Bossier City Police Department ruled Pam's death accidental. No charges have been filed for either of Pam Owens' overnight caregivers. Investigations by the Department of Health and Hospitals and non-profit Advocacy Center are still ongoing.

The Arc of Acadiana released a statement to KSLA News 12: "The Arc of Acadiana has cooperated fully with the investigation conducted by the State Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) into the recent death of one of our Arc Northwest residents. We are prepared to take all actions recommended by DHH to further ensure the safety and well-being of our clients residing at this facility."

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