Va. Lawmaker Creigh Deeds Blames Agency for Son's Treatment

Monday, 25 Nov 2013 07:28 PM

By Cathy Burke

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A devastated Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds reportedly blames a mental health agency for its treatment of his son, who attacked the lawmaker then fatally shot himself, 13 hours after being released from custody.

"I have very strong opinions about the [Community Services Board], and feel like they are responsible. My life's work now is to make sure other families don't have to go through what we are living," Deeds, who was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Virginia four years ago, said in an interview Monday in The Recorder, a subscription-only publication based in Monterey, Va.

Deeds was released from the University of Virginia Medical Center Friday after being treated for multiple stab wounds to the head and chest in the confrontation.

His son, Austin "Gus" Deeds, 24, attacked the lawmaker outside their home in rural Millboro, Va., on Nov. 19, 13 hours after an emergency custody order expired and he was released. He shot himself after the attack on his father, and died at the scene.

"I am alive for a reason, and I will work for change," Deeds told The Recorder. "I owe that to my precious son."

Dennis Cropper, the executive director of the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board, said the agency had no choice but to release the younger Deeds because it couldn't locate an appropriate hospital bed in the region for additional mental health evaluation and treatment under a temporary detention order, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

But a number of hospitals have said they had psychiatric beds available and were not contacted, according to the newspaper.

"I cry a lot," Deeds told The Recorder. "I can't focus now and talk to anyone."

Deeds told The Recorder he'd given state police investigating the incident complete access to medical records and property.

"I hope we can make a positive change as a result of this tragedy," he told The Recorder. "I hope the justice we can get for my son is to force change in the delivery system for mental health services."

Deeds said Bath and Highland counties, in the Allegheny Highlands, "are at the end of the line" for mental health services.

"It seems inconvenient for those people to provide services here," he said. "I have heard from people in Rockbridge about lack of services, too, so I think there may be a bigger problem here."

Related Story:

Va. State Sen. Deeds: 'Some Wounds Won't Heal'

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