Autopsy report confirms veteran’s cause of death in Oklahoma

This family photo shows Leonard Smith, a U.S. Navy veteran who died at the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Talihina.

TALIHINA, Okla. – A new autopsy report from the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office confirms that a man who was a patient at a state-run veterans’ home died after choking on a two-foot plastic trash bag.

The Tulsa World reports that 70-year-old Leonard Smith was a dementia patient living in a special-needs unit at the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Talihina.

On Jan. 31, Smith choked to death after being given food, fluids and medication.

A medical provider later found that Smith had a plastic bag lodged deep in his throat.

Oklahoma State Department of Health investigators determined that the facility “failed to provide sufficient staff” to protect Smith’s safety.

The center’s officials have said that four employees of the nursing home have been reported to their respective licensing boards for possible disciplinary action in the case.