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Disabled teen left alone for days with dead mother
A 14-year-old B.C. girl with Down syndrome kept vigil for more than a week beside her dead mother before help came, and now her family and neighbours are asking why no one acted on their complaints about conditions in the home.
Yvonne Prentice lived at Cultis Lake Village in Chilliwack with her daughter Amy, but park managers Lawrence and Edith Jewitt say there were problems in the trailer.
"We all saw it going down. We all say Yvonne spiralling," Edith told CTV News.
"She's not alone; a lot of people have problems with alcohol," Lawrence said.
The Jewitts were so concerned about Yvonne's problems, they called the Ministry of Children and Families.
Yvonne's grown sons did, too.
"We told them everything. We told them about the pill abuse, we told them about the drinking, we told them about her health problems and that she was going to die soon," Mike Prentice said.
Ministry representatives visited the trailer, but nothing was done, Lawrence Jewitt says.
"They came here, they checked things out and they said there wasn't a problem," he said.
In mid-September, when neighbours hadn't seen Yvonne and Amy in a while, they visited the trailer and knocked on the door. No one answered, so they used a ladder to hoist themselves up and take a look inside.
They saw Yvonne lying dead on the floor.
"At first, we thought Amy was gone, too," Lawrence Jewitt said. "She didn't move. In that long time, I don't think she left her mom's side."
He says Amy told him that her mother was sleeping.
"I could just visualize that little girl watching what's taking place in front of her," he said.
Amy wasn't in good condition, either.
"Two more days and she would have been dead, too. She couldn't even get off the couch when they found her," Mike Prentice said.
She'd spent as many as nine days alone with her mother's body. Amy's older brothers say the government should have removed her from the home months ago.
"I am angry and I feel that I have purpose in this for what's happened. I do not want to let this slide," Mike said.
Minister of Children and Families Mary Polak told CTV News she is unable to comment on specific cases.
"What I can tell you is that we never ignore complaints by family members. They are always fully investigated," she said.
Amy is now living in a group home with other children who have Down syndrome.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Shannon Paterson