The deaths of 186 residents at Texas residential facilities for the mentally retarded warrant immediate legislative hearings, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Monday. The Houston Chronicle reported Saturday that 186 residents died at 13 state facilities between June 2005 and December 2006. That represented 4 percent of the state’s nearly 5,000 state school residents.
Officials said the numbers of deaths was not unusual because many residents are profoundly retarded and physically fragile. Often they cannot speak or communicate well. The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services provided a breakdown Monday of where the deaths occurred. The department reported that the average age of those who died was 45. Seventeen deaths occurred at the Lubbock facility, which was the subject of a December report from the Justice Department’s civil rights division. The report said “a number of those deaths raise concerns regarding the quality of care” and cited four deaths where neglect may have played a role.