As investigators await the autopsy results of the 48-year-old developmentally disabled man found dead in a hot van in East Harlem on Tuesday, his family is criticizing the the nonprofit group responsible for his care. Alonzo Eason's body was found slumped over in the back of the van approximately six hours after his fellow passengers were dropped off at the East Harlem day center. It's still unclear how he was left behind, and what exactly caused his death, but his caretakers could face criminal charges.

The organization that runs the group home where Eason lives is the Association for the Help of Retarded Children [AHRC], which is one of the oldest nonprofits working with developmentally disabled New Yorkers. The Times reports that its annual revenue exceeds $200 million and runs group homes with nearly 600 beds. But Eason's family says they failed their relative even before he was left to die in the van. "It's really upsetting. They didn't treat him right," Nickiea Eason tells the Daily News. "Lonnie was really quiet. He had a childlike way about him."

Sources tell the Times that Eason "was nonverbal, typically needed assistance walking, and was known for his calm, mostly passive personality." He lived in a group home in the East Village, and one local resident tells NY1 his death was "totally irresponsible and horrifying. But I don't understand it because the [AHRC] staff who I know were very responsible." In a statement, AHRC said:

It is with tremendous sorrow that we mourn the loss of this young man who has been part of the AHRC family. He will be missed by his friends at both his residence and his adult day supports and will be forever in our thoughts. This is a tragic incident that is being thoroughly investigated internally at AHRC, by the police and by all regulatory agencies. All relevant parties were notified immediately and the investigative process has commenced. All legal requirements are being adhered to.

We are gathering the details of what transpired and have begun the process of thorough self-examination in this truly tragic incident in order to avoid incidents of this nature again. We cannot say anything more while this incident is being investigated. AHRC New York City is deeply saddened by the death of an individual who spent many of his 47 years being served by AHRC New York City. We mourn his loss and offer our condolences to his family.



In addition to the police investigation, Eason's death will also be investigated by the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons With Disabilities, a state watchdog agency.