Charges: Minnesota caregiver brought patient to party, gave him alcohol before death

A personal care assistant has been charged with neglect after she allegedly took a patient with muscular dystrophy to a party and gave him beer. He later died. 

Taylor Wellman, 24, of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota is facing one felony count of neglect of a vulnerable adult. She could be sentenced up to 10 years behind bars and be fined up to $3,000.

According to the criminal complaint, Wellman was one of five personal care assistants for the victim, a 19-year-old man with congenital muscular dystrophy who required 24-hour care. 

The victim could only consume a few ounces of liquid at a time and could not consume beverages by himself. He also had no neck strength. If his head slipped off the headrest of his wheelchair, he would be unable to breathe and could die. 

The incident occurred on August 15, 2017. According to the charges, Wellman started her shift caring for the victim at 6:15 p.m. and was the sole PCA responsible for the victim’s care that evening.

Another one of the victim’s PCAs told police the victim had given Wellman money to buy alcohol for him that night, so she purchased two six packs of beer. She then drove him to a party at her friends’ house in Vermillion Township. 

Wellman allegedly told her friends she had consumed alcohol before driving to herself and the victim to the party. When she arrived at the party, she said she was “wasted.” 

One witness reported seeing Wellman hold a beer with a straw in it for the victim. She also let another party guest give him some chewing tobacco. 

Another witness told police they saw Wellman pour two to four shots of vodka from the bottle into the victim’s mouth. The witness said the victim was begging for more alcohol and that he appeared intoxicated.  

Wellman admitted to giving the victim alcohol and said she noticed he was slurring his words and acting strangely. 

At one point, two people at the party noticed the victim’s head was off his headrest and he was turning blue. They called Wellman over and performed resuscitation efforts. Someone called 911. 

The victim died that same evening. At the time of his death, his blood alcohol concentration was .222.

Wellman admitted she had been outside most of the evening and was not watching over the victim. 

One witness commented to police, “If it weren’t for [Wellman’s] negligence [the victim] would still be here.”