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Fatal Fight Among Residents

Published on November 22nd, 2019

The death of an elderly man who fought with his Brooklyn nursing home roommate over a pair of pants has been declared a homicide.  First responders were called to the Crown Heights Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation about 3:15 p.m. on Aug. 10 after the staff failed to supervise and prevent Eitel Vargas from brawling with his roommate.

Nursing home staffers called 911 but the injuries were too severe. Vargas died three days later at Kings County Hospital, police said. The city Medical Examiner declared his death a homicide. The assault exacerbated the heart condition, which led to his death, officials said.

Vargas’ death remains under police investigation, said an NYPD spokesman who added that the department was never told of the fight.

The state Department of Health is also investigating.

“The New York State Department of Health takes these disturbing allegations with the utmost seriousness,” DOH spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said. “Upon learning of this incident, we immediately opened an investigation. As this is an ongoing investigation we cannot comment further.”

Nursing homes are required to report any incidents of assault and sexual abuse at their facilities to the state, and are required to identify residents whose personal histories put them at risk for abusing other residents, according to federal rules.

Vargas’ roommate still lives at the nursing home and has not been criminally charged, staffers said.
Relatives of nursing home residents were stunned by the news and said they were never told of the fatal fight.

“I wish I’d have known,” said one woman who was visiting her husband. “I’m not saying I would move (my husband), but I might have been more vigilant (about) his roommates and who’s up and down the hallway.”

Joe Pioletti
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