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The boy who killed himself on I-5January 26, 2011 @ 2:34 am (Updated: 3:46 pm - 3/28/11 )
Last Friday a teenager jumped off a I-5 overpass, fell to the freeway below, was struck by a van, and died. Many people heard a little bit about what happened because Northbound I-5 was closed for several hours and traffic backed up miles during the afternoon commute.
Who was he?
He was 15 years old, born in December of 1995. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner identifies him as Roger Eugene Benson.
When Benson was three years old, he was taken away from his parents.
"Any child who becomes a dependent of child welfare is a victim of child abuse or neglect," says Sherry Hill, with the state Children's Administration. "It has to reach a point of questions of a child's safety in order to be actually removed from their parents."
For the next 12 years the bounced around from one home or facility to the next. During that time the state worked "cooperatively" with the Yakama Tribal Court and the Yakama Tribal Child Welfare Agency to provide services for the boy.
Hill says it's not typical for a child to be a ward of the state for that many years.
"In most cases we do whatever we can to find permanency for children, whether they return home or whether they end up with relatives," she says.
This wasn't one of those cases of "permanency." He was involved in several crimes over the years.
On January 7, 2011 he was placed in a group home in Lynnwood. The facility describes itself as a behavioral rehabilitation service.
"On January 21st he ran away from the facility in the afternoon at 1:45 p.m. and law enforcement was immediately notified," says Hill.
He left the group home at 1:45 in the afternoon. Fifteen minutes later he was on an I-5 overpass. A witness, who was also walking on the overpass, told investigators it looked like the 15 year old kneeled down momentarily. At 2:06 in the afternoon he jumped to his death. He committed suicide.
There are people who know more about Benson, but they can't talk about him due to privacy laws. While the state will investigate "the fatality," as they call it, there's not more more they'll say.
Hill says, "Everyone needs to always pay attention to the youth around them, whether they're in State care or whether they're at home."
A spokesperson for the Lynnwood facility the teen ran away from says it "was extremely sad to hear of a young life that has been lost, and this is a very tragic situation. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the family and friends of this young man."
Related story: News we don't report - suicide
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