Caregiver charged in life-threatening neglect case

Diana Shook arrested at home near Kutztown on Thursday

Caregiver charged in neglect case; video report by WFMZ's Amanda VanAllen

MAXATAWNY TWP., Pa. - A Berks County woman has been arrested in connection with a life-threatening case of neglect.

Diana Shook was taken into custody by Pennsylvania State Police at her home on Quarry Road in Maxatawny Township, near Kutztown, on Thursday.

Shook's arrest comes more than three months after her brother, a 57-year-old man in her care, was transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown with a body temperature of 87.7 degrees and a blood pressure reading of 63/32, police said.

The man, whose name was not immediately released, was admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit on July 5 for treatment of life-threatening injuries that appeared to be the result of neglect by his caregiver, police said.

"He had a lot of injuries -- bed sores... low blood pressure... low body temperature, things that happen to you when you aren't taken care of properly," said Pennsylvania State Police Trooper David Beohm.

According to court documents, the victim was covered in scabies and open wounds when EMS found him in his home in Maxatawny Township on July 5.

State police said the victim was also suffering from hypothermia, stage-4 ulcers, a urinary tract infection and was in shock.

"People get paid to take care of somebody and I would think that you would want to care more for somebody if it's a relative or family member, but this stuff happens," Beohm said. "I don't know what causes somebody to do that."

State police and the state Department of Human Services were alerted to the case and an investigation determined that Shook neglected her duties as a paid caregiver for her brother, who was left partially paralyzed and in need of constant assistance after suffering a series of strokes, according to court documents.

Shook told investigators: Her brother was removed from his bed daily, placed in a wheelchair and taken to the living room; she changed his disposable undergarments eight to 10 times each day; she constantly changed his bed sheets and bathed him every other day; and she regularly called his primary care doctor regarding any medical issues. according to court documents.

Police obtained a warrant to search the home and reported finding a strong odor of urine in the victim's bedroom; a discolored mattress and bed sheets; a wet area on the floor directly beneath the bed; a cluttered hallway that would prohibit a wheelchair from being pushed between the bedroom and living room; a bathroom that did not appear to be used on a regular basis; and numerous prescription pill bottles with the victim's names that indicated he was not receiving his medication as prescribed, according to court documents.

A supervisor with Abilities in Motion told investigators that Shook was paid for 70 hours a week as her brother's caregiver since January 3, 2016, according to the court paperwork.

Shook's sister, Dori Green, has come to her defense, talking to WFMZ's Amanda VanAllen over the phone.

"I think my sister did the best job that she could," said Green.

This is not Shook's first run-in with the law. She was arrested in April 2015 during a countywide crackdown on drugs and subsequently pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. She was charged again with drug possession in February 2016.

Green said, although her sister has a rocky past, caring for her brother was helping her get back on track.

"We all have our problems. She was actually turning her life around. She was very dedicated to my brother," she said.

Police did not provide an update on the victim's current condition, but Green said he is "resting comfortably" at a nursing home.

Shook, 43, was arraigned Thursday on charges of reckless endangerment and neglect of care of a dependent person. She was jailed on $100,000 bail.

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