Powdered kratom. (Photo by Love Krittaya/Wikimedia Commons)

Caregiver Falls Asleep in Vehicle that Reached 125 Degree Heat, Leaving Man with Down Syndrome Dead

Tragedy struck one family as their 35-year-old son with Down syndrome died during his favorite hobby, riding in his car. John Lapointe had the cognitive ability of a 1-year-old. Police found him in the back seat of a Toyota Sienna that’s temperature was 125 degrees.

“Let’s just call it what it is, this poor guy baked in that car,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told reporters.

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The man who was supposed to be his caretaker, Joshua Russell, had kratom in his system. Kratom is a substance that is illegal in other states but is easily accessible in Florida, much like the availability of pot in Colorado. The 27-year-old claimed to have taken kratom “to feel awake and alert,” but after it had the opposite effect, he decided to park outside his home, where he went to sleep, leaving Lapointe helpless.

“There was nothing he could do,” Gualtieri said at a news conference Friday. “He couldn’t try and wake up Russell. He couldn’t do anything to help himself.”

After sleeping for three hours, Russell found Lapointe slumped over and not breathing. He tried performing CPR to no avail. Realizing the individual who he was responsible for is now dead, he went back to his house to retrieve his gun. When he came back out, he called his mom, who worked at the same assisted living facility, to say his final goodbye. He then started to drive off with Lapointe’s body still in the back seat.

After receiving a call from his mom, the police tracked down the car and found Russell who had run off. After Russell once again threatened to take his own life, the authorities were able to place him under arrest for carrying a concealed firearm and manslaughter.

It is not known whether Lapointe had any health conditions that made him more susceptible to the heat.

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