When the body of a 58-year-old man was found beside the railroad tracks in Biddeford on Feb. 15, one newscaster reported that the victim, who was a residential care client, had needed 100 percent supervision, which his caregivers said he received, “except when the family slept.” The statement raises a troubling issue.

It was while the family slept, according to police statements, that Saco resident Gary Googoo wandered away from his care facility.

The body of Googoo, who had been diagnosed with both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was later spotted from a passing Amtrak train. Police reported he had died of exposure during a period when temperatures dipped as low as 17 degrees below zero.

The news reports further indicated that Googoo was one of more than 550 people with developmental disabilities or mental illness in Maine who receive financial support for residential care through MaineCare, through a combination of both state and federal funds.

What the news accounts did not disclose was the inconsistency of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services in its frequent failure to provide funding for awake, overnight care after the agency categorizes a client as needing supervision 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It is an issue that should be addressed immediately in public forums by state officials and legislators to resolve this contradiction and to prevent another such needless tragedy.

Mark DiFrederico

Bangor