Adult With Special Needs Left in Hot Car for Hours

Gary Williams is 36 years old and he lives with his mother.

"He can't be alone," Guadalupe Cooper explained. "Why not, mama?" Williams asked. "I wish I could."

Williams wasn't born with special needs. Meningitis and a stroke when he was 11 years old left him with attention deficit and short-term memory loss. For years, he's been going to Special Connexion adult day camp in Arlington. On the last Tuesday in July, Williams was on a regular weekly field trip to the Randol Mill Family Aquatic Center when his mother got a phone call.

"They couldn't find Gary," Cooper said. "It's kind of like, 'Oh really? y'all never thought about my son?'"

Cooper said by the time she drove to the pool, Williams had been found inside the Special Connexion's van. Cooper said he was locked inside for more than two hours, and as long as four hours.

"They said that was the first day to hit 100, so it was hot," Cooper said.

"It was," Williams added.

The paramedic's report said the temperature inside the van was between 130 and 140 degrees. Williams went to the hospital to be treated for heat illness.

"They left me in the van," said Williams, who said he didn't know how to unlock the doors as the temperature inside increased. "Hot. Real hot."

"They just really messed up. It's unfortunate," said Cooper as she comforted her son crying beside her. "Well, apparently they never looked for him... That's the part that hurts me the most."

Arlington police confirmed the case was forwarded to Texas Adult Protective Services. When NBC 5 called Special Connexion, the person on the other end of the line said, 'No comment' and hung up the phone.

Cooper said up until now, her son's experience at Special Connexion was a good one, and that Williams still wanted to return.

"I guess maybe in my heart, they're just like family," Cooper said. "I don't want to think that it could have been worse. I'm just thankful Gary's still here."

Contact Us