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Memory care: Woman, 89, dies after assault at York Twp. personal care home

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch
Senior Commons at Powder Mill personal care home in York Township Thursday, April 23, 2020. An 89-year-old woman involved in an altercation with another resident there in February has died, according to York County Coroner Pam Gay Bill Kalina photo

An 89-year-old woman involved in an altercation with another resident in February at Senior Commons at Powder Mill personal care home in York Township has died, according to York County Coroner Pam Gay.  

Doris J. Bucks died at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday of complications following a right femur fracture that happened during an assault, Gay said in a news release.

Gay listed the manner of death as a homicide but pointed out a coroner’s definition of a homicide is “death at the hands of another” and has no legal bearing.

The coroner said the man who reportedly assaulted Bucks had died of natural causes approximately two weeks after the altercation.  

Gay said no charges would be filed in the case and no autopsy will be performed on Bucks.

Gay said Thursday the man and woman did not live in the same apartment.

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Heritage Senior Living, which manages the York Township facility, said in a statement  to The York Dispatch on Thursday that the company was "shocked at the nature of the report" of Bucks' death.

"The unfortunate incident that occurred in February was reported, as required, to the state licensing authorities and was responded to appropriately," the statement read. "The families of both residents have been supportive of the communities’ actions throughout the process.

"The physician of the resident who recently passed communicated to us that the resident’s death was due to natural causes," the statement said.

Gay reported that the assault occurred in the memory care unit at the home, located at 1775 Powder Mill Road.

According to reports and the medical record, nursing staff at the home heard "screaming coming from the resident's apartment” in the early evening hours of Feb. 5.

Senior Commons at Powder Mill personal care home in York Township Thursday, April 23, 2020. An 89-year-old woman involved in an altercation with another resident there in February has died, according to York County Coroner Pam Gay Bill Kalina photo

Staff members immediately entered the apartment and learned the man who lived there had dragged Bucks onto the floor by her shirt. Staff intervened and separated the two residents, who were evaluated medically, but nothing appeared to be wrong, Gay reported.

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Early the next morning, Bucks said she was experiencing right hip pain. She was taken to York Hospital for a medical evaluation, and the fracture was discovered.

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The coroner said Senior Commons personnel appropriately reported the assault to York Area Regional Police at the time of the incident.

Gay said police and Deputy Coroner Matt Groft responded to the scene Wednesday to follow up with the investigation.

York Area Regional Police Chief Timothy Damon could not be reached Thursday.

“In this case, there will be no charges," Gay said. "When there has been a police report of an assault that may have contributed in whole or part to a resident's death, the death must be investigated by the coroner, even when one or more of the residents have cognitive impairment and even if that impairment may have contributed to the death.” 

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.