More News:

April 22, 2015

Charges recommended in death of 37-year-old autistic woman

Christina Sankey died in March after being left unattended by a case worker.

A Philadelphia Investigating Grand Jury has recommended charges against caretaker Hassanatu Wulu in the March death of 37-year-old Christina Sankey, a severely autistic and intellectually disabled woman. 

On Wednesday, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced that the recommended charges against Wulu include Felony of the First Degree and a Misdemeanor of the Second Degree. 

Back on March 6, Sankey was left unsupervised at Macy's in Center City after she and Wulu, her state-paid caretaker, had earlier been to Magee Rehabilitation on the 1500 block of Race Street to drop off paperwork. 

Security footage shows Wulu entering Macy's with Sankey trailing her at 2:25 p.m. Wulu then approaches a jewelry table and within minutes, Sankey disappears. A security camera from Walgreen's captures Sankey wandering west on Chestnut St. toward Broad St., nearly getting hit by a car before continuing out of view. 

The following morning, Sankey was found partially clothed and dead on the 1400 block of north 57th Street in West Philadelphia. A doctor concluded that her death was caused by exposure to the cold within four hours of her discovery. 

This is a heartbreaking example of how a careless dereliction of duty by a trusted care giver led to a woman’s death,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “Christina Sankey needed constant supervision, and her Individual Support Plan and companion care needs reflected that. Simply put, Hassanatu Wulu failed at her job and didn’t follow her training and emergency procedures, so Christina wandered out into the cold March weather in 2014 to die alone."

Wulu's employer, Casmir Care, has a written policy and procedure for situations in which a consumer leaves his or her assigned worker. The policy says staff need “to keep consumer in line of sight at all times” and “to keep consumer within arm length at all times, and in a crowded area to “hold onto the consumer’s hand/wrist” or shoulder. Wulu did not follow any of these policies, and instead of immediately notifying 911 that Sankey was missing, she waited an hour to reach out to police.

[Christina's] death is a tragedy and my deepest condolences go out to the Sankey family," added DA Williams. "I’d also like to thank the Philadelphia Grand Jury for their hard work and recommendation of charges.