2011-10-14 / Top Stories

Abandoned Alzheimer’s MTA Rider Drowns

By Nicholas Briano

Walter Elmore, 80, of Far Rockaway. Credit CBS-2. Walter Elmore, 80, of Far Rockaway. Credit CBS-2. The drowned body of an 80-year-old man with Alzheimer’s disease floated onto the rocks of Norton Basin near Beach 42 Street last Thursday morning after he was apparently dropped off unattended, at his home, by an Access- A-Ride driver the night before, according to published reports.

Far Rockaway resident Gwendolyn Jolley, 58, says her father, Walter Elmore, was dropped off by Access-ARide shortly after 9:30 p.m., but when she went outside to get her father, he was nowhere to be found.

The driver was still sitting outside in the car, but there was no sign of Elmore.

The elderly Elmore would continue to go missing until his body was discovered the following morning about a mile from the Rockaway apartment that they share.

Jolley charges that her father was dropped off earlier than scheduled and was left abandoned by the Access-ARide driver. She blames them for his death.

Escort to and from the doors of a patient’s home, however, is not a requirement for the driver, even though many opt to ensure their riders make it safely inside their homes, officials say.

Access-A-Ride complaints across the city are common for the MTA, which contracts the service out to transportation companies, many of which are accused of being uncompassionate, rude and employing drivers who are, at times, careless.

It was only this past summer that Ruth and Isaac Adatto, also Rockaway residents, were left abandoned at the Rockaway Beach McDonald’s after the wheelchair-bound Isaac began to bleed profusely from his legs.

Due to the nature of the emergency, at McDonald’s on Beach 92 Street the Adattos asked the driver to bring them straight to their Beach 126 Street home, only minutes away. Instead the van driver chose to follow his route and tried to take the couple to East New York, Brooklyn first to drop off another rider that had recently been picked up in Far Rockaway.

The van’s driver called his dispatcher and was told to continue on his route to Brooklyn.

That story, which appeared in The Wave this past July, prompted a public apology from the MTA.

The MTA is currently investigating the incident regarding Elmore’s tragic death.

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