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Autistic man dies after being left in hot van

A 20-year-old autistic man died after being left in a van where temperatures reached 150 degrees following a trip to a theme park, police said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An autistic young man who didn't speak was left in a scorching van at a residential treatment home in suburban Philadelphia, where his lifeless, overheated body was found more than five hours after his small group returned from an amusement park.

Bryan Nevins, 20, was not deemed missing until a nurse looked for him to give him medication around 4 p.m. Saturday, as temperatures reached the high 90s Fahrenheit (mid 30s Celsius). Nevins had returned with two other counselors and three other clients around noon from a brief trip to nearby Sesame Place.

Nevins was found in a parked van at Woods Services, a treatment home about 20 miles (30 kilometers) northeast of Philadelphia in Langhorne, where the native New Yorker had lived since he was about 14.

His twin brother, also autistic, lived at the center as well, authorities said. The surviving twin, who had not been on the outing, left the home with relatives after his brother's death, Middletown Township Detective Jeffry Sproehnle said.

The counselor responsible for Nevins on the trip also served as the van driver. She has been suspended, Sproehnle said. Woods Services did not return several calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Sproehnle did not disclose her initial statements to police but said she had contacted at least two lawyers. It's not known whether she retained one. Police are investigating to see whether any criminal charges are warranted.

Bucks County coroner Dr. Joseph Campbell said Nevins died of hyperthermia and ruled his death accidental. He said Nevins was from Oceanside, New York, where a listed number for his family could not be located Tuesday.

Nevins had been placed at the Pennsylvania facility by special education officials in New York state, according to Laura Postiglione, a spokeswoman for New York City's Administration for Children's Services.

Police did not disclose the name of the suspended counselor but said she had worked at the center for about eight years.

The home has a license in good standing, according to Mike Race, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.

Woods Services was founded in 1913 and provides residential, educational and vocational services to more than 1,400 children and adults with various disabilities, according to its website.