Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Teen Challenge : NEGLIGENCE Responsible for Death of Young Man?

 by pixel8Pixie


Cheri Martin Spivey, wants as many people as possible to know what happened to her son, Nick. She is incredibly strong and brave to speak out. If you are on facebook, please like and share her page. I'm posting her story below for peeps who aren't on fb.

Nicklaus Ray Ellison
Nick was born August 30, 1990 @ 9:29 am. He weighed 8lbs and 9oz. He was born after four short hours of labor. He had light brown hair and blue eyes. Nick and I had a connection from the time he was born.  On Oct 20th 1990 Nick was dedicated to the Lord. Nick got his first tooth on January 20, 1991.

His first sentence was "I can't talk" because I always listened to the song "I can't dance" by Phil Collins. From that moment on Nick never stopped talking. Nick was very bright from early on. He loved to work puzzles and to be read to. He started school right before his 5th birthday, and for years it was just Nick and me and we were very close. I remarried when he was almost five and had another child, a daughter when he was six.  When he was almost 8 we moved to Ringgold GA, where I had another son.

Nick was in church from an early age and knew the Bible quite well. I was Nick's 4th grade Sunday school teacher and also Team Kids leader for his age group on Wednesday nights, along with his step father Bruce.

Nick's biological father was not a part of Nick’s life nor were his paternal Grandparents. Nick probably saw them a handful of times. No financial support to help with the rearing of Nick and not so much as a card for Christmas or his birthday. This ultimately caused abandonment issues. When Nick was ten I took him and my two other children back to Knoxville.  Shortly thereafter, Bruce and I divorced. Bruce would see my youngest two every other weekend and any time he could. But again it was Nick and me.

Nick still maintained a relationship with the Spivey's; they always treated him as their own Grandson.  When Nick was 12 his Nana (my mother) passed away. Nick was close to his cousin Joel and his aunt Leslie and Uncle Nolan and spent many nights with them. He met his best friend Abby when he was in middle school and from that time on they were inseparable.

Nick got along well with others and could carry on an adult conversation even when things would just fly over my head.  He was intelligent beyond his years. When he entered high school it became apparent that Nick was an exceptional writer.  He took Journalism and had an article published in the school paper. Nick was very philosophically deep, he could see the meaning of things said or through song that most of us could never understand.

Nick loved to dance, he loved Disney movies and being home with me and his brother and sister. Most of the time Nick's friends would come over to our house and they would just hang out and be typical teenagers, just talking and laughing. Nick was such a big kid.

During high school Nick started experimenting with alcohol and I am not sure what else. I was very naive and did not see the signs. When Nick was a junior in high school the school called and said they thought Nick was under the influence and wanted me to come and get him. Since they didn't find anything on his person they could not suspend him. Nick had taken clonazepam. I thought he would never do it again. The next incident with drugs,  Nick was taken to the hospital and was in ICU for 2 days; he had a cocktail of drugs in his system. I took Nick to Bradford for help with his addiction and he convinced them that this was an isolated incident.. Nick did very well for awhile and then when he turned 18 he started drinking with his friends. When he was almost 19 he got a DUI, it was in April of 2010, and I left him in jail for the weekend, and of course he said he would never do it again.
Nick was in college and making good grades. When he went to court over the DUI the courts just swept it under the rug. I asked his attorney if they would put him in some kind of outpatient rehab and he said that was Nick’s choice he was over 18. Nick again convinced his attorney that this was an isolated event.
By this time I was very concerned. Nick no longer had a car and I was taking him to and from college and he was doing great. By September he had made restitution and was excelling in his classes at school and seemed very happy. On December 4th Nick went to the club with his friends. Nick was sneaking alcohol from others because he was not old enough to drink. I had a bad feeling about this and I sent Nick a text that said "Nick please be good tonight" I woke up at 4:00 am and Nick wasn't home. I called his cell phone and his friend Adam answered. Nick had gotten drunk and Adam was bringing him home around one. Nick (who was the sweetest person when he was sober, was very violent when he was drunk) he jumped out of Adam’s car and Adam went back to get him. When they stopped at a stop sign Nick jumped out of the car and was only a couple of miles from home. Adam let him walk, and that is understandable. By the time Nick got about 2 blocks from our house the police stopped him. He was arrested for several charges, but the biggest problem was he had violated his probation. Nick was in jail and had no bond.
Because of Nick's charges and the VOP he was going to have to stay in jail for a year. I, along with other family members and friends, pleaded with the court to let him go to rehab. I wanted him to do outpatient and AA, but I also mentioned Teen Challenge which was a yearlong inpatient facility. The ADA decided that Nick had his choice between Teen Challenge or jail. He chose Teen Challenge. I made all the arrangements and the courts released him into my custody to take him to TC. We left on a Friday night on January 7th. We took a road trip, my sister, her husband, Nick, his best friend Abby and Nick's brother and sister.
We laughed and cut up on the way. We stayed at a nice hotel that night and the next morning Nick ate 6 omelets for breakfast. What is funny about that is Nick didn't like eggs. We continued our bitter sweet trip. I so wanted Nick to get the help he needed. Our last stop was a Chinese restaurant that also had sushi. Nick loved sushi. We then took him to TC. We got him registered and stayed for about an hour. Then we had to go.
Nick was transferred to Pensacola Teen Challenge in March of 2011. He did very well; he joined the praise and worship group and the choir. Nick began a real relationship with Jesus. He would call about once every ten days and we would write often. My sister and I would send him care packages, even if he didn't need anything. On Memorial Day weekend Nick relapsed and they dismissed him from the program. They put him on the street with no money, no food, no phone, just his bags. Nick managed to get to a phone and call me and let me know he was ok. He spent that night on the beach because the hotels were full because of the holiday. Nick made it to the bus station and we got him home on Memorial Day. That night we had steak, hamburgers, and hot dogs. He was so hungry. That night we stayed up talking and he told me some horror stories about Teen Challenge. I called his attorney the next business day and Nick had to go to court on that Thursday. On Wednesday night Nick and I lay in my bed and talked and watched Modern Family and just laughed. We went to court the next day and went upstairs to the cafe and he had a chicken biscuit and a diet Pepsi. He asked me to leave before they handcuffed him and I hugged him and told him I loved him. They put him in jail where he stayed for about three weeks. I visited him and continued to send emails to his attorney to see if he could do a program besides Teen Challenge. I explained that it was against Nick's constitutional rights, but the ADA would not budge. She said either a year in jail or Teen Challenge. Nick chose Teen Challenge.
He went back to Pensacola the next day which was the 20th of June. He relapsed within three weeks. I begged Pensacola Teen Challenge to send him to another Teen Challenge so my son wouldn't have to go to jail. They sent him to Jacksonville Florida. His luggage was stolen at the bus station in Pensacola because they left him there, at the bus station, while he was under the influence and it was a really bad part of town. He didn't have any food or money. He made it to Jacksonville and he was not allowed to call or write for 21 days. When I finally got to talk to him, he sounded good and I thought he was ok. However, his calls were monitored so if there was something wrong he couldn't tell me. I got a care package ready since all of his luggage was stolen and we sent clothes and toiletries. The day I sent the package I got a letter from a dear, sweet lady who found his luggage in her yard and wanted to know where to send it. She washed all of his clothes and mailed them to Nick.
Nick got his belongings back on the 15th and his package from us. He gave a praise report about it in a group meeting. I never got a letter from Nick while he was in Jacksonville, but on the 16th he called me. I will never forget that call because it was the last time I ever talked to my son. He told me he was doing fine, I told him his birthday was coming up and I wanted him to think of something he wanted. He talked about how proud he was of his little sister for making the soccer team. He wanted his younger brother to get involved in something so he wouldn't get in trouble. He said that is the age he started experimenting with drugs. We talked for less than 15 minutes and we were both really positive. On the 19th around 7:00pm I got a call from Jacksonville Teen Challenge from a man named Paul. He said that Nick was under the influence. He said someone was on their way to the job site to get Nick and bring him back there to pack and they were going to take him to the hospital. I asked Paul to have Nick call me. Paul called back at 8:10 and said that Nick was on his way to the hospital and that he refused to call me. (Nick always called me no matter what) Nick never did call and I was worried sick. I called the police and hospitals multiple times. I called Teen Challenge and spoke with Jonathon and he did not know where Nick was or who had dropped Nick off. He told me that Nick was resourceful and to call back Monday. On the 20th about 4:00pm I told my sister that I was worried because Nick hadn't called and I didn't feel anything. I didn't feel like he was in danger I just couldn't feel him anymore.
I reported Nick missing after no one had seen him in 23 hours. I cried myself to sleep that Saturday night and wondered what Nick would want played at his funeral. No one had informed me he was gone, I just knew. I went to bed @ midnight and woke up at 4:00am. I checked the computer to see if Nick had messaged me on facebook. I walked outside on the porch and there were two police cars with two police man and a chaplain. I just shook my head; I knew why they were there. They told me that Nick had been found dead at a woman's house that he had met in a parking lot. I assumed it was a girl maybe Nick's age, the woman was 57.
After speaking with police and the coroner, I learned that Nick was dismissed from Teen Challenge Jacksonville and they said they took him to the hospital. There is no proof that he was taken to the hospital. Teen Challenge refuses to give the name of the person who "took him to the hospital" and dropped him off in the parking lot. All we know for sure is that Nick was put on the street after working a twelve hour shift, with his luggage. They did not feed him before they dumped him on the street. He was next seen on a video at CVS at 12:59am. He was carrying a coke and walked through the store, then out to the back toward McDonald's. From there Nick was picked up by a 57 year old woman named Donna Rose. She claims Nick told her he was homeless and was going to sleep in the bushes. She took him to her house. She said he ate two sandwiches, but no food was found when the autopsy was performed and Nick was dehydrated. She told the police that they stayed up drinking until the morning hours; however, Nick had no alcohol in his toxicology report.  He also had antihistamines and cough syrup. Donna Rose, by her own admission, was there to get medicine for a cold.
She tells the police that she came to the living room at 1:30pm on the 20th and Nick was snoring. She said she came back at 4:20pm and Nick was cold.
My son died because Teen Challenge Jacksonville did not follow procedure and turn Nick over to the proper authorities like the contract states. He was on probation and was to be turned over to the police. The woman, Donna Rose, also should be held accountable because it was her medication that was found in his system.
Nick was a wonderful son, a loving brother, and a loyal friend.

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