Florida Man With Down Syndrome Dies in Hot Car After Caregiver Takes Drug, Falls Asleep

In an online obituary, John LaPointe's family called his death a tragedy

A man with Down syndrome who police said was nonverbal and had the cognitive ability of a 1-year-old died in a hot van while his caregiver slept in the driver's seat after taking drugs, authorities in Florida said.

Joshua D. Russell was arrested Friday and charged with one count of aggravated manslaughter in connection with the death of 35-year-old John LaPointe, NBC News reports.

LaPointe, a resident of Crossroads of Pinellas group home, was found in the backseat of a van on May 9 after he was left in the vehicle without air conditioning for several hours as Russell napped in the front.

"Let's just call it what it is, this poor guy baked in that car," Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said at a news conference Friday. "I'm sure he had to suffer. ... It had to be absolutely horrific in that car for that man."

Russell was booked into the Pinellas County jail on a $50,000 bond. The Crossroads of Pinellas group home did not immediately return a request for comment.

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