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Senior with dementia left in van amid heat wave

Police on Tuesday launched an investigation into a suspected case of elder abuse after a man in his 70s diagnosed with dementia was left inside a van for seven hours amid the sweltering heat.

According to Daegu Gangbuk Police Station, the 79-year-old man surnamed Lee was found unconscious inside the van registered to a senior social welfare center in northern Daegu around 4 p.m. Monday.

At the time of discovery, Lee’s body temperature was measured to be over 40 degrees Celsius, police said. The victim reportedly regained consciousness after being rushed to a hospital. 


Daegu’s daytime high on Monday was recorded at 33 C, with the nation’s weather agency issuing heat warnings across the country.

Authorities said the driver and caregivers failed to notice that the victim had not gotten out of the vehicle upon arrival at the facility. A worker claimed to have been occupied with another elderly patient who was in a hurry to use the bathroom and therefore failed to check if everyone had gotten out.

There were reportedly five elderly people, one caregiver and the driver present at the time of the incident. Police said they could not find any black box footage showing the interior of the vehicle.

According to an annual report issued by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korea Elder Protection Agency, 12,009 cases of elder abuse were reported in 2016.

By Catherine Chung (