Home health aide remains wanted after disabled man was fatally burned in bath

A 24-year-old man is facing a felony charge four months after authorities said he left a disabled man in a bath that was so hot, the man later died of severe burns.

Omar Hamadi was employed as a caretaker for 38-year-old Benjamin Reed on May 16 when Hamadi reportedly put Reed in a bath. Reed, who had Huntington’s disease and could not walk on his own, died of severe burns 11 days later in a Salt Lake City hospital, according to authorities.

Hamadi was employed by A Caring Hand in Boise, a home health care agency, according to Reed’s housemate, Joe Ribich. Hamadi was hired to take care of Reed while Ribich was at work.

Hamadi is charged with abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult causing great bodily harm. A warrant was issued on Aug. 30 with a $10,000 bond, but as of Tuesday, he had not yet been arrested.

Huntington’s is a fatal, incurable genetic disorder that breaks down nerve cells in the brain, according to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. It erodes a person’s physical and mental abilities.

The Idaho Statesman obtained a copy of the Boise Police Department report on Hamadi through a records request. The report was heavily redacted, but it confirmed that Hamadi was helping the victim prepare a bath and “Hamadi left him momentarily,” according to the report. Hamadi did not know the bath water was “scalding hot,” and the victim suffered severe burns to 30 percent of his body, according to the report.

It goes on to say that Hamadi found the victim “injured and distressed, provided aid, but failed to call or have EMS called in a timely manner.”

If convicted, Hamadi could face up to 10 years in prison.

BPD spokeswoman Haley Williams told the Statesman last week in an email that officers were aware of the outstanding warrant against Hamadi “and are actively attempting to serve it to him.”

Jennifer Flowers, administrator for A Caring Hand, declined to comment in June, but told the Statesman that the agency is conducting an internal investigation and described Reed’s death as “a tragic accident.” Calls to A Caring Hand earlier this month and on Tuesday were not returned.

On Sept. 19, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare confirmed that A Caring Hand was being audited because of the incident involving Reed’s death.

The Statesman also has requested copies of any investigations by Boise police into A Caring Hand’s employees, but had not received a formal response by Tuesday.

Hamadi has no apparent criminal history in Idaho other than two driving infractions, according to online court records. The phone number listed in the police report for Hamadi has been disconnected.

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Reporter Ruth Brown covers the criminal justice and correctional systems in Idaho. She focuses on breaking news, public safety and social justice. Prior to coming to the Idaho Statesman, she was a reporter at the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Bakersfield Californian and the Idaho Falls Post Register.