ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News has learned that the Butts County sheriff has sent Gov. Brian Kemp a letter urging him to open an investigation into a Clayton County mental health facility after it allegedly took a man with mental disabilities to the wrong place and dropped him off.
That man was Mario Scott and he was found Wednesday after deputies said he spent several days wandering in the cold.
Scott is from Jackson, Georgia, and a mother and her 15-year-old son from the same town stumbled upon him after they recognized him walking down the road.
“I prayed the night before that he be found and he be safe,” said Monique Norris, who found Scott. “I didn’t know that God was going to use me.”
She told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne that God led her to the downtown Atlanta corner where she rescued Scott on Wednesday.
“I said, ‘I think that’s him right there,’ and she was like, ‘You’re sure?’ So we turned around at the gas station and we came back and that was him,” said Elijah Bostic, Norris’ son.
“I just said, ‘Lord, thank you Jesus.’ Because I had just prayed and said, ‘Lord just guide me in the right direction to find him,” Norris said. “I just got him and called (Sheriff) Gary Long and put him in my car.”
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Long told Winne that when Scott was to be discharged, Riverwoods Behavioral Health in Riverdale took insufficient steps to contact his family to return him to Jackson where he resides.
Instead, Long said Scott was dropped off in front of a downtown Atlanta homeless shelter where he never checked in, leaving him missing for days in frigid weather.
A Riverwoods representative told Winne she could not comment on any individual patient because of privacy laws, but that Riverwoods’ policy is to not discharge a patient to a particular place without the patient’s consent to ensure a safe discharge.
“In conjunction with the district attorney’s office, we’re going to be reviewing the facts of the case as Butts County has uncovered them and determining whether or not to launch a criminal investigation,” said Clayton County police Maj. Tony Thuman about the mental health facility, which is in Clayton County.
Long said he sent the letter to the governor after speaking to another family that had a horribly similar experience to Scott’s, and he’s seen a Facebook post about yet another.
“I just did what God told me to do,” Norris said.
Norris said she knew Scott from her time as a Jackson resident and knows the streets of Atlanta because she and her family frequently give goods to the homeless.
“It was God, you know, making sure that we made sure that he came home this day,” Bostic said.
The governor’s office says the letter is being referred to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.
“Thanks to the Good Lord above our resident is now home safe and not deceased or still missing wandering the streets of Atlanta,” the letter said.
Long indicated to Winne that he sent it to legislators too, saying the case is emblematic of a broken mental health system in the state.
Cox Media Group