By: Jim Vasil
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The sound of water trickling down a stream surrounded by a beautiful landscape in front of a Bethlehem home is meant to replace the sad memory of Jimmy Stocklas’ final moments.
“Jimmy was always just a happy guy,” said Linda Stocklas-Fry, Jimmy’s mother.
The son of former Bethlehem District Magistrate James Stocklas, Jimmy was under 24-hour home-care after suffering a traumatic brain injury in 2012. His story took a deadly turn on the night of Aug. 19, 2018.
At 8 o’clock that evening, a caregiver went to Jimmy’s home to relieve the current one on duty. What happened between then and 10 p.m remains a mystery known to only two people: Jimmy and his caregiver.
“I would call him every night at 10 o’clock,” said Linda Stocklas-Fry. “That night, when I called him and he didn’t answer, I knew immediately something was wrong.”
Jimmy’s mother, Linda, and Jimmy’s teenage daughter went to his home and found him out of his wheelchair, unresponsive on the front lawn.
“Jimmy was laying there with his eyes partially opened,” Linda recalled. “He was warm.”
Attorneys said the caregiver on duty never made an attempt to call for help or render aid. Jimmy died at the hospital that night of an opioid overdose. He was 41 years old.
“I was hysterical,” Linda said.
Linda and Jimmy’s daughter have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Comfort Keepers of Irvine, California, also known as CK Franchising; MD Enterprises in Hazleton, a Comfort Keepers franchise; and the caregiver.
Family attorney Jordan Strokovsky alleges the caregiver either gave him the drugs or allowed Jimmy to take them.
“If Comfort Keepers had a competent aid working that night, there would be no tragedy,” said Strokovsky. “Jimmy would still be alive.”
MD Enterprises, operating as Comfort Keepers of Bethlehem, declined to comment on the litigation, but said in a written statement to WFMZ.com, “We continue to be committed to the health, safety and well‐being of our caregivers and clients. Our hearts go out to the family, loved ones and all who are involved.”
The criminal investigation into Stocklas’s death is currently before a Northampton County grand jury.