YORKVILLE — The pedestrian killed by a car last week on Highway 20 was reportedly a resident of a group home that has a history of issues, according to a neighbor.
Elsie Weatherspoon, 53, was a resident at Eagle House, 807 53rd Drive, about a quarter mile north of the crash site at Washington Avenue (Highway 20) and 53rd Drive, which occurred at about 5:49 p.m. Dec. 14.
According to Kathy Goldbeck, a neighbor of the home, Weatherspoon was followed in a van by Eagle House employees as she was running from the home when she ran into Washington Avenue and was hit by a passing car.
“I just came out in my garage and I heard an awful sound,” Goldbeck said. “I heard someone scream and yell help and I heard the driver yell, ‘Oh my God I didn’t see her.’ I knew immediately what happened because I saw the (Eagle House) van in the intersection.”
Golbeck said this is not the first time Eagle House has had residents running away. She said that was a problem this summer and that her brother’s car was broken into and stolen by residents once.
“They have many problems with residents taking off,” Goldbeck said. “People are running around at all hours of the night.”
Goldbeck said her brother had observed Weatherspoon hitchhiking four hours prior to the incident. One hour, 15 minutes later, Golbeck’s brother saw her again being dropped off at the home, hours before she was killed.
“You would have thought they would have been on red alert when she got back if she had taken off hours earlier,” Goldbeck said. “A man took off this summer and I was sitting with my friend and I remember saying, ‘Someone is going to get killed.’ “
Eagle House owner Bob Lieberman said he could not comment on the Weatherspoon situation because of state confidentiality laws.
“We’re under state law,” Lieberman said. “The confidentiality of all residents that live in the home is important to us and we can’t breach that.”
Lieberman also could not comment on the policy of how his organization handles runaways because care plans are individualized for each resident.
“Anything regarding the incident that has to do with her treatment or support is confidential under state law,” Lieberman said.
According to Wisconsin Department of Health Services Records, Eagle House obtained a license to operate in 1995 and has operated there since.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ Division of Quality Assurance said it is “not able to confirm, deny, or acknowledge if the department has received a complaint about a specific facility before we conduct an investigation.”
Yorkville Town Chairman Pete Hansen was not aware of the incident or problems with Eagle House as of Friday, but said the town may look into it in the future.