Wilcoxes blame county, seek healing | TheUnion.com

Wilcoxes blame county, seek healing

Nick and Amanda Wilcox blinked for a tear now and then Tuesday, and strongly condemned Nevada County for the death of their daughter at the hands of a mentally ill gunman.

In a packed board chambers, both the supervisors and the county officially apologized to the Wilcoxes for Laura’s Jan. 10, 2001 death.

The board also agreed to enforce Laura’s Law ” written to get outpatient mental services for those in need ” if Proposition 63 state funding passes in November.

Mrs. Wilcox noted it was the first official apology by the county to the family since Scott Thorpe shot Laura Wilcox four times with a semiautomatic handgun at the county Behavioral Health Department.

While Mr. and Mrs. Wilcox made it clear they resented the county’s negligence in not dealing with Thorpe’s behavior, they also took time to endorse Proposition 63, the Mental Health Initiative designed to bring consistent services to people across California.

The day was also marked by the dedication of the new county Laura L. Wilcox Memorial Building in Grass Valley which will house mental health and child protection services from the same structure.

Mr. Wilcox said he understood the randomness of his daughter’s death, but “what happened that day was indeed predictable and therefor entirely preventable.”

Mrs. Wilcox said the less than $60,000 the family received for Laura’s death was little compensation for losing a shining star of the community, who had been valedictorian of her high school class and contemplating student body president at her college.

“We also truly believe the county was negligent,” Mrs. Wilcox said. “We never heard from the chain of command at Behavioral Health, and the Department of Human Services, nor from the County Administrator…they acted like Laura never existed.”

County Executive Officer Rick Haffey also read an official acknowledgment regarding the violence of Jan. 10, 2001, as the county agreed to in its settlement of the Wilcoxes’ lawsuit.

It read:

“The Nevada County Board of Supervisors expresses its deep regret about the tragic circumstances that unfolded January 10, 2001, causing grievous injury to many, and the death of three cherished individuals – Laura Wilcox, Pearlie Mae Feldman, and Michael Markle.

“The County acknowledges that it failed to predict and therefore prevent the violence perpetrated by a mentally ill patient.”

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