A new report from the Department of Social and Health Services summarizes a teenager’s life and death in eight pages. After bouncing him through 22 foster homes, it concludes that caseworkers and foster parents should have had more information about the boy’s history so they could have helped him.
Roger Eugene Benson was in state care when he left a group home in January, walked to a freeway overpass, jumped to I-5 below and died after being struck by a van. People who witnessed the suicide were horrified. People who didn’t know what was going were angry by the traffic delays caused when the Interstate was shut down during the afternoon commute.
In calling the State Patrol that day, I found out the victim was 15 years old. That struck me because I have a 15-year-old daughter. This kid, the boy who killed himself on I-5 , was somebody’s son.
What went wrong in his life?
Benson was born in December of 1995. His history with the state began when he was a toddler. His mother was investigated for abuse or neglect of her children, including Benson, six times. The last time CPS was called, in May of 1998, Benson was placed in protective custody. The boy and his siblings were placed in four foster homes within three years. The longest he was in any one home was two years.