Wachusett High senior dies in fiery crash

HOLDEN — A Wachusett Regional High School senior from Rutland was killed Tuesday when the car he was driving crashed into trees and caught fire near Millbrook Street and Muschopauge Road.

According to Timothy J. Connolly, spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., Luke Inwood, 17, of 1 Haven Hill Road, Rutland, had left school early and was driving on Millbrook Street around 12:10 p.m. when he lost control of the vehicle he was driving and struck several trees on the side of the road. The car caught fire, Mr. Connolly said.

Mr. Inwood, an accomplished online gamer, was pronounced dead at the scene, Mr. Connolly said.

There were no other vehicles involved, and Mr. Inwood was alone in his vehicle. The cause of the crash is under investigation, Mr. Connolly said. Investigators are looking at speed as one of the factors in the crash, he said.

In Mr. Inwood’s hometown Tuesday night, candles lighted up the middle of an empty field at Memorial Park about 9:30. Off to the side, a smaller fire burned, and around it stood several friends of Mr. Inwood.

As they walked back over to the candles, some laughed, and some talked. They said they were fellow students at Wachusett.

“Everybody knows he was the heart of Rutland,” said Justin Goodney of Rutland, who said he has known Mr. Inwood since fourth grade.

Mr. Goodney said what started as a few Twitter postings about a vigil Tuesday night turned into hundreds of people, including Mr. Inwood’s mother, showing up to pay their respects.

“She was so strong, she spoke to the group,” Mr. Goodney said afterward.

Mr. Goodney and others said Mr. Inwood was well-liked and had a great sense of humor.

“He wasn’t always the easiest to get along with, but he was good-hearted,” Mr. Goodney said.

His friends said he had varied interests and was already dabbling in the stock market. He had a younger brother, Mr. Goodney said, and lived with both his parents.

Mr. Goodney said the last time he spoke with Mr. Inwood was around 11 a.m. Tuesday, before he left.

His friends said he was an accomplished online gamer, and had traveled the country competing in tournaments.

But back home, he was known as one of the neighborhood kids who spent most of his summers playing hoops at the nearby Uptown Courts.

The group was already brainstorming Tuesday night how they could memorialize their friend in a more permanent way. One of the group said a three-on-three charity basketball tournament might work; another proposed raising money to fix up the basketball courts that Mr. Inwood spent so much time on and to have them named in his memory.

The group picked up the candles and started bringing them back to the far corner of the field. They were still amazed at the turnout for the vigil.

“Everyone just stood here for half an hour and nobody said a word,” Mr. Goodney said. “It was totally silent.”

News of Luke Inwood’s death also spread quickly through the gaming community among those who remembered “Froggir_eX” — his online handle. He was skilled at playing “Call of Duty” games, they said.

International Business Times had news of the death on its website and said Mr. Inwood had played professionally for the eXcellence Gaming team.

Some friends quickly designed and began selling shirts bearing a photograph of Mr. Inwood, while others took to the online fundraising site Both efforts were created to raise money for Mr. Inwood’s family.

Hours after the accident, #RIPLukeInwood was trending on Twitter in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom as gamers, friends and strangers offered condolences.

Staff reporter Kim Ring contributed to this report.


Nursing Home Negligence

Falls in Nursing Homes

Litigators who work with cases involving long term care know how significant the issue of falls can be. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death by injury in adults over 65. Approximately half of the 1.6 million nursing home residents in the U.S. fall each year, and a report by the Office of the Inspector General found that about 10% of Medicare skilled nursing residents experience a fall resulting in significant injury; and, more than 1/3 of hospital falls result in injury. In the rehab setting, rates are often higher – for example, fall rates among stroke patients have been shown to be very high. Immobility and falls can lead to poor outcomes.

Fear of falling is defined as a geriatric syndrome. It not only occurs in older adults who have fallen, but in those with impaired mobility and is associated with decreased physical ability and depression. Care of older adults requires that clinicians be aware of the myriad of issues related to falls including knowledge of this syndrome, increased risk and interventions needed to prevent injury related to falls.

Just about every resident in a long term care setting, including assisted living and sub-acute rehab, is at risk for falling. Between medications, functional and medical issues and advancing age, older adults in most settings are prone to falling.

There are well established standards of care related to fall prevention; but, as I continue to review records related to issues like falls, I am amazed at how often these basic standards are not being practiced. The basics of a fall prevention program include assessment and ongoing reassessment of risk, ensuring a safe environment, medication review, providing therapy as needed, individualized interventions, and staff education.

Basic nursing practice includes assessment, planning (Care plan), putting interventions in place and then evaluating outcomes to determine if those interventions are appropriate and effective. Assessment includes completing fall risk assessments on admission and then as needed. Very often, the fall risk assessments completed by nurses in LTC are inaccurate. The tools utilized in long term care typically include these risk factors: history of falling, use of ambulatory aids, gait/balance issues, medications, secondary diagnoses (i.e. diabetes) and mental status. Care planning is the next step in nursing care - it is the standard of care that as the resident’s status changes, assessments and care plans must be updated, and often, are not. For example, with each fall, there should be updates, or if there is a new diagnosis, i.e. stroke, or worsening dementia, updated interventions should be put into place, with ongoing evaluation of effectiveness.

Care planning and interventions very often are generic and not individualized. For example, a toileting schedule that includes only after meals and before bedtime may not be appropriate. If a resident has issues with constipation or incontinence, this may lead to the need for more frequent toileting to prevent falls. The “make certain call bell is within reach” for residents with dementia is an example of a generic intervention. Older adults with dementia may not recognize a call bell or remember to use it. The debate about use of bed and chair alarms go on – they are a part of an individualized care plan, not a solution to preventing falls. Often, I see delays in putting interventions in place, i.e. with the resident who is incontinent NOT being put on a toileting plan immediately. The other common issue I see when reviewing records is the lack of updating care plans as the resident’s status changes – with every fall, with worsening dementia, physical decline, or new medical diagnosis (i.e. Parkinsonism).

Nurses reviewing records need to pay attention to the MDS, risk assessments, care plans and Interdisciplinary notes with attention to where the standard of care is not being met.
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Nursing Home Negligence
Dropped Patients

Each year, one in four people over 65 fall at least once, and many of these victims sustain serious injuries, like broken bones and head injuries. Certain physical issues, such as Vitamin D deficiency, limited vision, medication side-effects, and a hazardous walking surface, multiply the risks exponentially.

Nursing homes have a duty of care to prevent their patients from being injured, especially when it comes to everyday activities like moving from a bed to a wheelchair. So, many nursing homes follow legal protocols, such as this three-point plan from the National Institutes of Health, when performing such operations. A failure to follow established guidelines is clear evidence of fault in negligence cases.

Types of Transfers

Many residents are in long-term care facilities, at least in part, due to mobility impairment. Therefore, staff members must do whatever possible to prevent falls during procedures like:
•Bed to Wheelchair: Inspecting the surroundings, like the physical condition of the wheelchair and the rugs on the floor, is one of the most important, and most overlooked, steps in these transfers.
•Wheelchair to Bath: Many falls occur in bathrooms, so staff must be especially diligent during such transfers.
•Hoyer Lift Falls: To lessen the physical strain on staff and residents, many nursing homes use hydraulic lifts to move patients, at least in some situations. If they are not used properly or working properly, these devices can cause serious injury.
•Chair to Chair: Many residents break their hips when they stand because they use their legs for additional leverage, and many staff members are not as cognizant of this danger as they should be.

In many cases, normal medical protocol requires that two or more staff members assist a resident during these and other transfers.

Possible Injuries

Many nursing home fall victims are already in a somewhat frail physical condition before the incident. To make matters worse, they are often in elevated positions and sometimes unable to break their falls. This combination usually results in serious injuries like:

•Broken Bones: These wounds often require extensive and painful surgical correction and long-term physical therapy.
•Brain Injury: Often, the jostling alone (like a raw egg sloshing against an eggshell) is sufficient to cause permanent injury, including personality changes, loss of function, and even death.
•Internal Bleeding: Emergency responders are often preoccupied with outside trauma injuries to the point that they neglect internal injuries.

In addition to compensation for medical bills, victims and their families normally receive compensation for their pain and suffering.
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