Crime

Krysta Douglas, Caregiver, Takes Mentally Disabled Adults on Wild Van Ride, Injuring One

Krysta Douglas, a Chandler group-home caregiver, took three disabled adults on an angry, wild ride in a van that injured a wheelchair-bound woman, police say.

The alleged crime happened almost three months ago, but Douglas was arrested on December 26 at her home and booked into jail on suspicion of three counts of intentional abuse and one count of emotional abuse.

On the morning of October 4, records show, Douglas was preparing to transport the adults from a group home at 671 South Velero Street to a daycare facility.

One of the victims, a woman with a mental capacity of a 4 or 5 year old, wanted a different hair tie before they left and became upset, a police report states. The confrontation apparently set the 42-year-old Douglas off in a rage.

Douglas called the disabled woman a "bitch" and shook or grabbed her hard as many as 10 times, another caregiver, Elaine Chen, told police. Douglas was seen whispering things to the woman that upset her, the report states. Chen offered to help with the woman, but Douglas -- a "trainer" for the group home -- wouldn't let her.

Finally, the two caregivers and the three adults got in a van. According to the other caregiver, records state, Douglas began driving "very recklessly." While speeding, she made several "hard turns and erratic lane changes."

Douglas' driving caused a tie-down to come loose that was securing one victim's wheelchair to the floor. The wheelchair nearly tipped over and the victim struck her head on a window. The other two passengers began screaming. Chen took off her seat belt and tried to help the woman, yelling at her to stop the "crazy driving," but was unable to re-tie the restraint, the report says.

Douglas ignored them and kept driving erratically. Chen felt that Douglas had put everyone in the van in "great jeopardy," records state.

By the time they arrived at their destination, the van's passengers were frazzled and continued to yell at Douglas. The woman in the wheelchair was "slumped" and "worn out," but Douglas would not help prop her back up in the chair. Douglas was "indifferent with anything going on," records state.

The injured victim received numerous bruises to her arms and was taken to an urgent-care facility for an examination of her head. The woman's current condition wasn't revealed. (A supplemental report is still being prepared by Chandler police.)

Douglas was fired. Court records show she hasn't yet been charged.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.