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Cherokee Co. sheriff calls for changes at assisted living facility

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Cherokee County Sheriff says deputies respond to numerous calls at Ivy Grove. (March 11, 2014/FOX Carolina) Cherokee County Sheriff says deputies respond to numerous calls at Ivy Grove. (March 11, 2014/FOX Carolina)
GAFFNEY, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Video images show the last moments of Tina Miller's life as she walked out of the Ivy Grove Residential Care Center in Gaffney in early March.

Moments later, cameras at the facility show employees running out after hearing a boom. Investigators with the Highway Patrol said Brandon Singleton, 21, hit and killed her on March 1.

On Tuesday, Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller said several calls for missing people who live at the facility are becoming a problem.

"We're literally going to Ivy Grove Residential Care Center more than we are a bar joint on a Friday or a Saturday night," Mueller said.

He said last year they had more than 60 calls to the facility for various incidents, 15 of them he said were missing persons' calls. Mueller said so far this year, investigators responded to 17 calls at the facility.

"They discover they're missing and it might be an hour, or it might be six hours," he said.

Mueller said he wants administrators with the Department of Health and Environmental Control to change the facility's policies and add more regulations. He also said employees at the facility can do more to keep residents safe too.

"You know a lot of these facilities have put in doors with alarms," Mueller said.

However, the director of the facility, Obi Melekwe, said he's following policy.

"When people leave, we know where they're going - generally," Melekwe said.

The facility houses vulnerable adults, which means many of them have mental disabilities, but at different levels. But Melekwe said legally, residents at the facility can come and go as they please.

"I would like agencies to give trained facility caregivers more power to determine who can come and go based on their safety and mental ability," Melekwe said.

Melekwe said he's following policy and hasn't done anything wrong. He said the facility uses a sign-out book that isn't mandatory. He said he would like state lawmakers to get involved to help come up with a better solution.

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