LITTLETON, Colo. (KDVR) — The family of a man found dead in a Littleton lake is taking legal action against the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and a local care facility.

Graham Hebert went missing on New Year’s Day. The 30-year-old suffered from a traumatic brain injury and was last seen leaving his live-in care facility.

After more than a month of agony and searching, Hebert’s family learned first responders recovered their missing loved one in a suburban Jefferson County lake about a mile from his care facility — the same lake where deputies found him hours before his disappearance. 

“There were so many opportunities for his life to be saved and it didn’t happen,” Michele Bourgeois, Hebert’s mother, said.

Man showed warning signs before disappearance

Bourgeois requested reports and body camera footage surrounding her son’s disappearance. She’s now filed a lawsuit against his care facility, Rocky Mountain Care and Consulting, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and responding deputies. 

“The facility knew he was in crisis. A couple of days before they witnessed Graham crying, they witnessed him way off his baseline,” Bourgeois said. 

The complaint says that hours before Hebert’s disappearance, his care facility called 911. It explains that responding deputies found Hebert sitting by the frozen reservoir in just his underwear on New Year’s morning.

“Graham told the deputies, ‘I have a brain injury, I’m confused, I’m not all there, I’m on a mind trip’ and he said, ‘I’m having very scary thoughts,’” Bourgeois said. “And the deputy even repeated back to him, ‘So you’re telling me you’re hallucinating. I could bring you to the hospital, but’ — and then he discourages Graham and says, ‘If it were me, I’d want to be chilling in my room.’”

Deputies took him back to the care facility, not the hospital.

Law enforcement, care facility respond

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s office shared the following response to FOX31’s request for comment: 

“The Sheriff’s Office understands the heartbreak that Mr. Hebert’s tragic death must cause his family. When deputies contacted Mr. Hebert on January 1, 2021, they did not believe he met the threshold to be placed on a mental health hold. Therefore, the deputies had no basis to detain him or transport him to a medical facility.”

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

The owners of Hebert’s care facility, Rocky Mountain Care and Consulting, deny any liability or wrongdoing. They shared the following statement with FOX31:

“We serve adults who are high functioning and have the capacity to live, work or volunteer in the community and enjoy a meaningful life.  As an independent adult      (with no guardian or rights modifications), Mr. Hebert had the right to leave his home whenever he chose.  We are not a locked facility and cannot restrict or restrain our residents.

Rocky Mountain Care and Consulting grieved for Mr. Hebert’s death and his family’s suffering.  Concerning any lawsuit, RMCC denies any liability.  When the State of Colorado investigated the matter, it found that RMCC followed all state rules and regulations governing their facility and did not find any liability or wrongdoing on the part of RMCC related to Mr. Hebert’s death. RMCC utilized all community resources, including RMCC staff and the police to help the family search for Mr. Hebert.”

Rocky Mountain Care and Consulting

In the complaint filed Monday, Bourgeois is seeking a jury trial to review her son’s death.

“People like Graham, with a traumatic brain injury or mental health struggles, they often are just so marginalized and pushed to the side and minimized, and it’s not OK,” Bourgeois said. “His life mattered and his death matters. Things need to change. People need to do their jobs. People need to be accountable.”