Thatcher Police Department

THATCHER — An investigative team has determined that the drowning death of an elderly man July 20 was an accident.

The man, who has been identified as Danny Koreen, 72, of Safford, was found deceased in the Union Canal located north of West 8th Street. The Thatcher Police Department has ruled Koreen’s death to be accidental by drowning.

According to an article published by the Healthy Aging Research Journal, most drowning deaths by elderly victims are accompanied by falling and pre-existing medical conditions.

“Dementia was the second most common pre-existing medical condition among older drowning victims in this study. A large proportion of these occurred following an unknown incident, suggesting the person may have wandered away from caregivers and the drowning was unwitnessed. Previous research suggests that people with dementia are twice as likely to experience a fall as older people without cognitive impairment,” according to the report, “Fatal, unintentional drowning in older people: an assessment of the role of pre-existing medical conditions.”

The Courier reached out to multiple local entities on the risks of elderly drowning, as well as national databases. As a result, the Courier found that the majority of the research available is funded by the Astrailian government and that there is little to no research on elderly drowning in the state of Arizona or the United States. The Healthy Aging Research Journal’s article on unintentional drowning was funded primarily by the Australian government.

Are You OK program

For those who may be concerned about an elderly or disabled person living alone, there is the Are You OK phone program available in Graham County.

To aid local disabled, homebound and isolated elderly, the Are You OK program is a free service system that calls daily to check on registered individuals. Through this program, the Graham County Sheriff’s Office knows which individuals within the community are particularly vulnerable and need extra care.

In a previous interview with the Courier, Scott Howell, director of the Are You OK program, told the Courier it was brought into effect under Sheriff Frank Hughes.

“We started it to check on the elderly or those who are basically homebound that need to be checked on every day,” Howell said. “When we call them, they should be expecting it. If they don’t answer, we know that probably something is wrong. If the person is out of town or has doctor appointments, they call us and let us know ahead of time.”

After filling out paperwork to sign up for the free program, the elderly or homebound individual is called at a set time daily. The call consists of an animated program that asks, “Are you OK?” If the individual doesn’t answer, local authorities are dispatched.

For more information on the free Are You OK program call 928-792-5404.

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