Family and friends of a teen who took his own life spoke to the Rock County Board on Thursday night and called on the board to investigate.
The Rock County Human Services Department was in charge of the care of 17-year-old Cole Fuller when he died April 4 at the home of his mother and stepfather in rural Milton.
As reported earlier, the state Department of Health Services has already investigated and found failures by Rock County officials.
The Rock County Human Services Department’s Crisis Intervention Unit is working on a plan for corrective action in response to the state investigation.
More needs to be done, said Fuller’s father, Jeff Fuller, and stepfather, Steve Wilson.
They called for county officials to be held accountable and for the board to appoint an independent investigator to look into failures that led to Cole’s death.
“I’m asking the board to please act,” Fuller said. “Please look into this case. Please lead.”
They also accused county officials of falsifying records and lying to them.
No county board member or other official responded at the meeting. The Gazette was unable to contact county officials for comment because of time constraints Thursday night.
Cole was being treated for mental health problems, including thoughts of suicide.
When he moved from his father’s home in Walworth County to his mother and stepfather’s home in rural Milton, his care was transferred to Rock County.
When he finally met with a case worker after several delays, the worker “threatened” to send him back to a state psychiatric hospital. Two hours later, he was dead, Wilson said after the meeting.
The lack of treatment was shocking “but not as shocking as the lack of response from the county administrator and this board,” Fuller said.
Wilson told the board that although the human services department is making changes, those changes would have little chance of success if the same people who failed to follow policies in Cole’s case are involved.
Cole’s brother, Clayton Fuller, and friend Abigale Greenwald pointed to the county’s failure to look after Cole.
Clayton said county workers got a slap on the wrist and no “real consequences.”
“Would you let these people take care of your children?” Clayton asked.
“What if that happened to your kid? How would you feel?” Greenwald said to the board.
Asked after the meeting what holding people accountable would mean, Fuller said, “fired, put on leave, changed to DPW so they can hold a parking sign. I don’t know, but they shouldn’t be dealing with people with mental health issues.”