SHELTER IN PLACE

SHELTER IN PLACE — A transient finds refuge in the park like median adjacent to Wilcox and South Naches Avenues in Yakima.

SUNNYSIDE — The 48-year-old inmate, who tested positive for COVID-19 and is diagnosed with schizophrenia was released from Yakima County Department of Corrections on Friday, May 15, and was subsequently picked up by Neighborhood Connections, a healthcare facility for the homeless.

When he was discharged from custody by the Yakima County Superior Court with health care and quarantine instructions following the guidelines and approval of the Health Department, the Sunnyside man was sick, alone, and remained at the DOC with nowhere to go.

His family became frightfully worried that he would try to make his way back to Sunnyside, coming into direct contact with the public, putting anyone at risk for the virus.

“At least we know he’s safe right now and not wandering the streets, and no one else getting infected,” older sister Daisy Medina stated after her younger sister received a brief phone call from their brother on Saturday.

The Sunnyside man, affectionately nicknamed, “Sase” by his six brothers and four sisters has been dealing with mental illness since he was a teenager and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia, his older sister said.

She indicated Sase has also been in and out of city jail while struggling to take prescribed medication in the treatment of his health disorder since the passing of his mother 14 years ago and more recently, his son.

“We know the person he is when he’s on his medication. You want to be around him. He would give you the shirt off his back,” Medina conveyed. “That’s the one person everybody wants to be around because he’s such a sweetheart!”

It’s when her brother fails to take his medication, that’s the side people are scared of because he can become very angry and violent to match his intimidating physical size of about 6’3” and over 250 pounds.

Medina confirmed the reports of her brother biting and spitting on Yakima County and Sunnyside Police Officers made her extremely sad for everyone involved and attributes his inability and possible unwillingness in taking his medication as the reason.

“When you look at his record, every time he’s been incarcerated, it’s been because of his mental illness, she said. “My mom was the one who was on top of everything. He would listen to her and take his medication.”

Sase’s failure or stringent behavior to adhere to his medication regimen has also resulted in losing out on being a part of his sons’ lives, who now have young babies of their own. The family wishes that he would get better because they all want him in their lives.

“We love him. But we feel like there’s nothing more we can do to help him. He has to be the one to say, ‘I want to go into a facility and get back on the right track.’”

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email PShelby@SunnysideSun.com

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