Beaver Deputies Accused of Abandoning Homeless Woman

Beaver Deputies Accused of Abandoning Homeless Woman

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Beaver County sheriff's deputies allegedly took a 39-year-old homeless woman who can't speak or hear across the Millard County line and abandoned her at a service station at 1 a.m. Monday.

Beaver County Sheriff Kenneth Yardley said Thursday that he will discipline any deputies and corrections workers involved.

"We're going to have an education on this," Yardley told The Salt Lake Tribune.

But the sheriff also said the case highlights the problem rural law enforcement officers have in dealing with the homeless and transients when there is no shelter nearby.

"That's what happens to these kinds of folks," Yardley said. "They get shuttled from one county to the other."

Disability Law Center Director Fraser Nelson said officers could have taken the woman to a hospital, called the Division of Adult Protective Services or searched for family or friends.

"You don't just drive someone over the county line and drop them off at a service station. They wouldn't do that with a dog. You'd take a dog to the animal shelter," Nelson said.

Yardley said the incident began when his office received a complaint Sunday that the woman was trespassing at two motels.

Deputies brought her into the sheriff's office for booking, but she didn't give them enough information to complete the paperwork and instead she was given a trespassing citation, Yardley said.

He said the woman told deputies she wanted to go to Salt Lake City, so she was driven north into Millard County and dropped off at the gas station in Cove Fort.

They "probably expected her to catch a ride the way she got to Beaver," Yardley said.

Bill Olsen, an EMT who was working as the station's attendant that morning, said the woman was "kind of confused looking."

Writing on a notepad, she asked if she was in Fillmore, Olsen said. Then she asked if there was a bus she could take there. Olsen told her there wasn't.

She began complaining of chest pains, Olsen said, and he called for an ambulance. She was admitted to Fillmore Community Medical Center and was discharged about 8 a.m. Monday.

The Tribune said it had not been able to locate the woman.

The sheriff said his office transports people to other jurisdictions from four to 10 times a year. When people enter Beaver County via freight trains, he sometimes drives them back to the freight station and says, "It would be nice if you left my town."

The sheriff said the homeless woman first arriving in Beaver County about a year ago in a rental car from California. After the car broke down, his office helped her pay for a motel room, but she was eventually evicted. Twice, deputies helped her with transportation to Cedar City's homeless shelter. Once, she refused to go inside.

"Why she keeps coming back to my town, I don't know," Yardley said.

Carol Bolsover, director of Iron County Share and Care, said the woman left the shelter on Thursday or Friday of last week, saying she wanted to check on a cat she left in Beaver County.

It appears the woman, at times, had a place to live in the county. In March, a caseworker from Adult Protective Services interviewed a Beaver County woman matching the homeless woman's description to see whether she was capable of handling her finances, which included public assistance, said Human Services spokeswoman Carol Sisco. The investigator determined no intervention was necessary and closed the case on April 6.

"She knew how much money she had coming in and how far behind she was on rent. And she was buying and cooking food for herself," Sisco said.

Bolsover said the woman was perfectly lucid but may have some form of mental illness.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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