Paul May speaks to the media about his father Bill Monday

Paul May speaks to the media about his father Bill Monday

Vernon family describes death as ‘random tragic act’

Calls for Interior Health to look at ways to improve safety for residents in care

A Vernon family isn’t sure what could have been done to prevent the death of their father.

Bill May, 85, was allegedly murdered at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Polson residential care facility Aug. 18.

“The incident that took our father’s life was a tragedy for all involved,” said son Paul May.

Bill May had resided at the Polson special ward for two years and had advanced dementia.

“Our experience was the staff are a committed and caring group of people,” said Paul, adding that looking after individuals with complex care is difficult.

“We know of the risks present in such a setting. People do not arrive in these places unless they have displayed un-cooperative and aggressive behaviour”

Son Scott May hopes Interior Health will review last year’s provincial ombudsman’s report into seniors’ care.

“I hope there’s something that can be done to prevent this from happening again but it’s a tough population because of dementia and the potential for aggression,” said Scott.

There has been a suggestion that single rooms would have helped, but the family is not sure given that the residents are mobile.

“If you strapped people into wheelchairs, it could be prevented but is that what you want?” said Paul.

When asked about the potential for legal action, Paul says, “I don’t think we’re ruling anything out. But at this point, we’re just trying to put my dad to rest.”

A Stratford, Ont. native, Bill had three children (Phil is the other son) and was married to Bonnie for 57 years until she died in 2007.

He moved to Vernon in 1969 and started the Consumers Glass plant in Lavington. He was vice-president of the international company when he retired in 1989.

“He didn’t have a university degree and got himself there by his own tenacity, hard work and intelligence,” said Scott.

“I was extremely proud of my dad. He was my hero.”

His accomplishments have helped his children develop into the individuals they are today.

“I learned independence and self-reliance from him,” said Paul.

The family says they have no hard feelings towards anyone and they describe the death of their father as a “random tragic act.”

“We do not want there to be any perception that we are ungrateful for the care given to dad at Polson  because we are not,” said Paul.

“If we speak at all about how we feel, if we think there may have been some way of preventing this incident, it is only to help others avoid experiencing a similar fate. And by that, we mean not just the victim, but the families and the staff that are there when we are not. They are family to these people too.”

John Furman, 95, is charged with murder in the Aug. 18 incident. He has been transferred to a Kamloops psychiatric facility for an assessment.