He crashed to his death down the nursing home stairs. Nobody noticed for nine hours.

by Marcus Dorsey [Lexington Herald-Leader Kentucky.com]

Nobody at Woodcrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center noticed Bobby Crail crashing down the stairs in his motorized wheelchair one Sunday morning in 2016.

No one even went looking for him for the next nine hours.

When Crail disappeared from a second-floor hallway, the staff at this Northern Kentucky nursing home assumed he left for the day on an unscheduled family trip without anyone signing him out. So his absence caused no concern. Also, the emergency exit stairs that he accidentally rolled into were supposed to be secured. Unfortunately, the door’s lock and alarm were broken.

Crail’s battered body was discovered in the stairwell that night. He had suffocated where he landed at the bottom of the steps from the weight of the 166-pound wheelchair on his chest. A pool of blood surrounded his head.

For its failure to protect the 45-year-old Crail from harm, Woodcrest was hit with a $73,710 fine from the state of Kentucky, which it paid, and a wrongful death lawsuit from his parents and children, which it settled for an undisclosed sum.

“We couldn’t grasp how this could happen, you know?” Crail’s father, Robert Crail Sr., said in a recent interview at his Kenton County home a few minutes away from Woodcrest. “We just hoped that maybe if we made some noise, someone would step up and start inspecting this place more seriously to make sure that people weren’t hurt there again.”

But — as so often happens with Kentucky’s troubled nursing homes — people still get hurt at Woodcrest.

Since Crail’s death, Woodcrest has racked up 44 more deficiencies in inspections, several involving what the state classifies as “immediate jeopardy” or “actual harm” to residents, and $142,714 more in fines.