A family takes the floor in a lawsuit against a boarding school in Utah following the death of a teenager (2023)

SALT LAKE CITY — Taylor Goodridge, 17, died of a treatable illness on December 20, 2022 at a boarding school for "troubled teens" called Diamond Ranch Academy in Hurricane.

Her father is now suing the school for medical negligence. This is just one of hundreds of lawsuits against such facilities in Utah.

READ: Father sues Hurricane boarding school for malpractice after daughter's death

"I never thought I'd have to worry about cemeteries," said Taylor's father Dean Goodridge, "She's going to be missed. I mean, I have no doubts about it."

Goodridge said his daughter's photos never do justice to the light Taylor brings to those around her.

"In this community she was everywhere," he said, "there is nowhere or anyone to touch them in this tribe."

He said her death made a lasting impression on her entire Native American tribe, the Stillaguamish tribe of Washington.

“She had the biggest heart. She would do anything for anyone. When someone was depressed, she tried to do everything in her power to lift that person's spirits. I mean, she was very loved.

Taylor was the first girl out of 11 close-knit siblings to love Disney and her rescue dog Sushi.

"It's not just 'oh, you lost your baby.' Yes, I lost my child, but so did she… two nieces who will never see their aunt, grandparents who will never see theirs will.” see her again," said Goodridge. "The hardest thing is devastation."

As a young teenager, Taylor had some emotional problems.

Goodridge explained that a counselor who worked for the tribe chose Diamond Ranch Academy as the place where Taylor could get help.

“She convinced Taylor to agree to go. What parent can tell when their child or daughter says, "Daddy, I need help." I think it will help. I will not refuse her, he thought. “She had problems and needed help. She wanted help. Don't end up in a box."

Autopsy reportsrevealed that Taylor died of peritonitis, an abdominal infection that led to sepsis and organ failure.

“If they had taken her to the doctor or the emergency room, she would still be here. I'd still have a daughter, Goodridge thought.

Medical reports indicate that Taylor vomited for weeks at school and complained of severe pain.

"They portrayed her through so much punishment and hurt and pain," said Goodridge, "and my daughter died alone. Not with one family member with her. I'd quit what I was doing and be there."

Taylor's case is not new to the industry, even at Diamond Ranch Academy.

She is the third student to die there since it opened in 1999.

In 2009, James Shirley Jr.14, died of complications from congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a genetic condition, while at Diamond Ranch Academy.

According to the lawsuitin 2013, the academy left a suicidal 16-year-old boy unattended and staff did not help for nearly three minutes when he committed suicide.

On December 21, 2022, the night after Taylor's death, former employee Matthew Thomas attended a meeting of the night watchmen who look after children at Diamond Ranch Academy at night.

"I'm very suspicious about things, so I just switched my phone to the sound of a meeting or a few meetings I was in before I got kicked out," explains Thomas.

In the recording, the director of the night watch informs the staff of Taylor's death.

"Unfortunately, this isn't the first time I've dealt with this and it probably won't be the last, depending on how long I stay here," the director told the group.

When the director asked if there were any questions, Thomas spoke up.

"I'm a little worried that she got sick and died," Thomas asked. "What did she get sick of? Because all these kids are sick and we're all sitting here. As if she had pre-existing conditions that…?

In the muffled footage, the director says, "She wasn't sleeping and she was feeling better, well...she seemed to be doing better...her vital functions..."

Thomas interrupted him at this point.

“I mean, the email didn't contain that content. Because I heard about it this morning and I went back and looked at the emails because I heard about it a week ago from Kerry because she said a student is sick and I feel like there's a lot more omission to play than what one wants to believe "

That day was to be Thomas's last working day at the Diamond Ranch. He said he was released soon.

"After the meeting, I quickly downloaded as much as I could because I was blocked the next day," said Thomas. "I was released on December 26, the day after Christmas."

In one of the retrieved e-mails, Taylor said: "When he was angry and felt that the staff had not tried to help her with her illness recently."

Another text from a co-worker who wished to remain anonymous was sent on December 17, three days before Taylor's death, and read in part: "Honestly, if she were my baby, I'd take her to the hospital or at least to instacare.

"Almost all children have a general feeling that they all feel neglected," said Thomas, "They don't believe in the school curriculum."

Thomas said he felt the school was not helping children at all.

“They made it clear to these kids that their parents wouldn't take them back. It's their last straw," said Thomas, "So when they leave Diamond Ranch Academy, they're on their own. to surrender.

"Any time someone gets sick or injured that requires individualized care, they will often be labeled dramatic, manipulative liars or lazy, giving them an excuse to ignore their needs," says Meg Appelgate, CEO of the grassroots organization"Impatience."

Applegate knows firsthand what it's like to live in these facilities.

"I first got into this business when I was 15 when I was snatched out of bed in the middle of the night," she said. months."

After transferring to a therapeutic boarding school in Montana, Applegate experienced a group therapy tactic called "The Circle", where other children were forced to yell at one student in a "hot spot".

"We'd hear every personal fear, everything you're embarrassed about," recalls Applegate. "The kind of trauma, the learned helplessness that comes with it, is so devastating that many people end up believing it and moving beyond it when they leave the show."

In the case of Appelgate, Taylor's case is close to home.

"It affected a lot of survivors because anyone could have been Taylor, any of us could have been her because we really were forced to keep quiet about everything we were going through," she said.

Now, she uses her voice as an advocate for survivors and tries to educate lawmakers about what she believes is wrong with the industry.

"We're really trying to make a difference and we're putting a strong emphasis on enforcing transparency in the tough teen industry," said Applegate, "and we're doing that through our online program archive, which currently contains over 100,000 documents and information on over 3,500 programs."

Now, a lawsuit filed by Goodridge on Taylor's behalf against Diamond Ranch Academy has been added to this archive.

"However, I don't want any child to go through this," Goodridge said, "and I feel sorry for anyone who has been put into the DRA or any of these other facilities because of it. In my mind every day I am terrified for every child.

Applegate said she supports the Goodridge family and their decision to sue.

"I think you'll be hard-pressed to find a facility or program in this industry that doesn't have at least one allegation of abuse, neglect or worse," she said.

Industry concerns are not new to Utah, and Senator Mike McKell has been pushing for change for some time.

"It's an industry that has thrived for decades by controlling children," he said. “It's a $500 million industry. And it developed outside the regulatory structure. We had some oversight, but it was very, very limited as a state.

In 2021, McKell unanimously passed Senate Bill 127.

"I think what happened with Taylor Goodridge is an example of where, you know, we had the right," McKell said. “The law has been broken. I'm very worried about that."

The bill added new investigators, banned more painkillers, and mandated weekly, unsupervised phone calls to families, among other things.

A week before her death, Taylor was supposed to call her and her father, but Dean said Taylor never got along.

“The reason the parent coordinator was there was because Taylor got into trouble. Because she was sick," Goodridge said, "she got into trouble because she was in the bunk below her, because she was so sick she couldn't get up in the top bunk."

McKell said more action needs to be taken at the state level to prevent cases like Taylor's from happening again.

"This is an industry that needs updating," McKell said, "I'm not comfortable with where we are now."

Copyright 2023 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Who died at the Diamond Ranch Academy? ›

In December, Taylor Goodridge collapsed at Diamond Ranch Academy in Hurricane after she reported feeling sick. She was dead by the time police arrived at the facility. The autopsy revealed that Goodridge died of peritonitis — an infection of the abdomen — which led to sepsis and organ failure.

What happened at Diamond Ranch Academy? ›

A newly issued autopsy shows that a Native American girl's death after collapsing at Diamond Ranch Academy, a Utah boarding school, was the result of a serious infection that usually needs to be treated with antibiotics.

Who owns Diamond Ranch in Utah? ›

Diamond Ranch Academy was founded in 1999 by Rob and Sherri Dias. Their son, Ricky, is the executive director.

Who are the parents of Taylor Goodridge? ›

“We are devastated to learn that Taylor's death was entirely preventable had Diamond Ranch Academy cared,” the girl's parents, Dean Goodridge and AmberLynn Wigtion, said in a recent statement.

How much does it cost to go to Diamond Ranch Academy? ›

Diamond Ranch Academy is accredited by the Joint Commission. The monthly rate of admission can fluctuate depending on the program. The price ranges from $7,400-$12,900 and is typically private pay, they do offer financing options. Diamond Ranch Academy is a college style campus that stretches over 55 acres.

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Rancher Seth Hadley, whose family owns the sprawling Diamond A Ranch, has agreed to construct a road on the northern side of the ranch to the national forest boundary.

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1. Serenity (2005) The crew of the ship Serenity try to evade an assassin sent to recapture telepath River.

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History and Background Information

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Situated in the Largest Wilderness Area

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