Dealership Sells Car To Elderly Man With Dementia, Who Then Dies After High-Speed Chase

Police are seeking criminal charges against two car salesmen who sold a 67-year-old wheelchair-bound man with dementia a new truck. He died later that day after suffering a heart attack, following a high-speed chase with police in his new vehicle.

“It was obvious to look at him that he was a very sick man,” his wife told KCRA. Despite his visible mental impairment, and wheelchair, the salesmen proceeded to sell him the truck.

Previously he had tried to buy the truck by getting a taxi to the dealership, but his plot was foiled when the driver came into the rest home where he lived and asked the staff if he was okay.

This time the salesman picked him up, still in his pajamas and slippers, from the nursing home in his new truck and drove him to the lot to sign the papers.

“I think the rights of my husband were violated and he was taken advantage of,” his wife told The Modesto Bee. “There were so many signals that they should have checked a little bit further.”

Hey, those nice guys can use their commission towards their bail bond.

Manteca police seek criminal charges against car dealership [The Modesto Bee]
Car Dealership Could Face Criminal Charges [KCRA] (Thanks to Mikey!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. macoan says:

    So a dealership picked up a wheelchair-bound man?? Hum…..

    Of course if this did not happen, we would be reading the story about how a car dealership will not sell to older people.

    • kobresia says:

      Yes, or if they wouldn’t sell to someone who they think might be a little crazy. That’s discrimination if they’re making those sorts of judgements about potential customers and refusing service. I mean, where do you draw the line? Is someone who seems a little inbred and appears to have an IQ of 70 suffering from enough of a diminished mental capacity that they should always be refused service?

      The guy’s family had been buying cars from that dealership for generations. It’s not like the stealership was trolling the nursing home, looking for demented old people to sell new trucks to– he called them, got the deal rolling, arranged for transportation to the dealership, and signed the paperwork. It’s a sad situation, but if the man was that much of a danger to himself, perhaps his family should’ve kept him at one of those nursing homes that is set-up to handle dementia patients.

      Heck, it’s probably also possible to flag someone’s credit report too, if they’re suffering from diminished mental capacity. If there’s not, there should be, though convincing the credit bureaus you’re not crazy if you get mistakenly flagged is probably substantially more difficult than convincing them you’re not really dead.

      • kujospam says:

        Yeah, if they did that, he wouldn’t be able to afford the truck, and probably his house. Good thinking.

  2. Scurvythepirate says:

    I wonder if they used “The Four Square” method on him.

  3. outlulz says:

    What’s the crime?

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      Reckless endangerment?

    • SecretAgentWoman says:

      According to TFA: financial abuse of the elderly.

      • sonneillon says:

        If they have a reasonable lawyer they can get off. If they hire a cheap lawyer they probably will not.

        IANAL but I would argue that it is against the law for them not to sell him the car because it violates federal age discrimination statutes. I’m sure a real attorney could do better than that.

        • slappysquirrel says:

          I think age discrimination statutes are about employment only.

          • sonneillon says:

            I think a few states have it as part of their anti-discrimination statutes. Well older not younger because you can discriminate against younger people.

            • slappysquirrel says:

              I’m skeptical that businesses refusing to sell things to the elderly has ever been a problem requiring legislative attention the way businesses refusing to hire older employees has been, but I could be wrong.

    • Press1forDialTone says:

      Are you nuts? Or just amoral.

  4. RookOmega says:

    I am wondering – if he was wheelchair-bound – how he could operate the vehicle?

    • outlulz says:

      He could be too weak to walk far but still strong enough to move his legs up and down. Or the truck could be fitted with those hand controls.

  5. CaptCynic says:

    Um, I’m not following something here. What exactly did the car dealership do that was illegal?

    … I should point out that I do have a very negative opinion of car dealers. I just don’t understand what they did that they shouldn’t have..

    A man wants to buy a truck. He arranges for the dealership to pick him up. He buys truck and goes “thelma & louise”. How is that the dealership’s fault?

    • ccooney says:

      It may be illegal to take advantage of someone’s reduced mental capacity – not really sure though.

    • Dover says:

      “Financial elder abuse” for selling the man a car that he obviously could not afford.

      • outlulz says:

        One article says they did a credit check on him. It may have shown that he was ok financially to buy the car.

        • Dover says:

          Credit check ≠ good finances. You have to have really atrocious credit for a car dealer to refuse financing.

      • jaroth says:

        Where did it say he couldn’t afford it?

        • Dover says:

          “…the return of two other vehicles to [the dealership] in the last year due to the family’s financial troubles.”

          • CaptCynic says:

            There’s nothing here to indicate he has diminished mental capacity. Also, they did run a credit check, so It isn’t clear that he lacked the means to pay.

            Further, I fail to see how any of that leads to any liability in his death. The article didn’t even state what caused his death.

            • AlfredaCosta says:

              the headline says dementia…if true, definitely not full mental capacity.

            • Dover says:

              They want to charge the dealership with financial elder abuse, not the death.

            • Dover says:

              Also, he died of a heart attack in the hospital, presumably after being apprehended following the high-speed chase.

            • Mom says:

              The fact that he was wearing pajamas and slippers when they picked him up wasn’t some sort of sign that there was a problem?

              • bsh0544 says:

                Wearing pajamas and slippers outdoors is a clear indicator of diminished mental capacity?

                I was going to suggest that you visit a college town to see how many people wear just that out and about, but on second thought you may be right.

              • njack says:

                My wife has been known to go to the grocery store in her PJs, but doesn’t make it a habit. I am pretty sure she isn’t of diminished capacity.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t take on the loan. If he’s had health and mental problems for a while, it makes sense that nothing would be in his name. The wife would be the one making financial decisions. If his record is clean because he hasn’t had any loans, that might show him as eligible to take on a car loan.

            This quote below:

            “I also got in the mail yesterday a notice that they did a credit search on my husband on the 26th of October,” Janet Davis said. “They will check the credit but they wouldn’t think of checking with me under the circumstances.”

            Those circumstances include the return of two other vehicles to Cabral in the last year due to the family’s financial troubles.

            indicates that she thinks the dealership should have checked with her – but but Davis is a very common last name. She implies that the dealership knew her and knew her husband together. Certainly the dealership knew her because she returned the cars, but did it know she was married to the man to whom it sold the car? Did they return the other vehicles together? Also, there’s no indication that it was him who had previously purchased those other vehicles. If he did purchase those other vehicles, the family should have caught onto his behavior and restricted his phone access and alerted the home.

            • Dover says:

              The deceased and his wife were connected by the address, so they would have known if they had looked into it (not that they necessarily had any reason to). I don’t know enough to say whether or not the dealership was in the wrong, but the police seem to think so.

    • humphrmi says:

      RTFM, “financial elder abuse”.

      One FAQ about that law says “Financial elder abuse is generally defined as the improper use of a senior’s funds‚ property or assets. Examples include cashing a check without permission, forging a signature, or convincing an elder to withdraw large sums of money and running off with it. ”

      • macoan says:

        Sorry, don’t really see how this could be “Financial elder abuse”

        If the car dealership “sold him the car”, and told him it would be delivered in a couple of days – then waited for the Dementia to set in and sell him the same car a few more times… then yea, abuse.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It says he was wearing pajamas. I was ready to jump on this, but sometimes pajamas look like sweatpants. I don’t know. Sometimes, you can’t immediately tell if someone isn’t all there, mentally, or that they’ve just left a care facility. Sometimes a care facility looks like an office building or a large house. I used to volunteer at a care facility that was an old apartment building.

      The fact that the man called to arrange a pickup indicates a mental capacity that many people would not call diminished. It’s not about one behavior he shows, it’s about all of them – overall, was he acting in a way that would have made it clear to most people that he was not of sound mind?

      I think if the investigation revealed that the dealers should have reasonably concluded that he had diminished mental capacity, and then despite this, coerced him into signing, lied to him, or forged his signature, then there would be blatant illegal activity.

      • Dover says:

        You’re right about the location, this facility seems to be in a residential area and is not obviously a care facility from the Street View. The cab driver seemed to know what it was and did the right thing by going inside to check.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        Last week I saw some guy who looked like a college student shopping at the grocery store in pajamas. They sell them as “lounge pants” in department stores these days, but they’re just pajamas.

      • halo969 says:

        I used to work as a telemarketer and I could tell over the phone when someone wasn’t there mentally. Considering how some sales people operate, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if they knew the guy wasn’t all there and arranged the sale nonetheless.

        • borgia says:

          That is a good example of a self sustaining fallacy. At the end of the call you were never given any info about if you were right or wrong. If you want info about how hard it is to spot the mentally incompacitated wiki Rosenhan experiment.

        • daave says:

          so you could identify 100% of the people who werent all there? wow, you have some skills!!

          sure there are some that are obvious. I run a call center and have listened to recordings when a wife called after a husband with dimentia placed an order. they guy sounded 100% to me. This has happened on several occasions.

      • MrEvil says:

        People suffering from Dementia have good days and bad days. My Grandmother (Before she was so far-gone she was unable to care for herself) had days where her wits were all about her and other days where she forgot things you said to her five minutes ago.

        Dementia is a terrible terrible ailment. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. These days my grandmother just sleeps most of the time muttering incoherent things quietly. She’s 96 now.

    • RookOmega says:

      “Records also indicate employees knew Donald Davis was ill, although not to what degree.”
      (from the article)

      After the first attempt to get him out there – they should of looked more into it.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        He didn’t make it to the dealership on the first attempt. If I understand correctly, he called for a taxi, and the taxi driver asked the home if he was okay. He never got to the dealership.

      • dolemite says:

        I don’t think it is the car dealership’s responsibility to check the medical history of every person that wants to buy a car. “I dunno…says you suffered a seizure while driving.” “That was 28 years ago, and I was on medication!” “Sorry sir…don’t think I can sell you this car without your physician’s approval.”

        If the dude was so bad off, he should have been supervised more carefully…his funds frozen…medical personnel keeping tabs on him. That’s not the dealership’s responsibility.

    • AlfredaCosta says:

      IANAL, but it’s my understanding that if you are incapacitated, contracts you sign aren’t valid–isn’t this how a lot of wills are contested? This dealership had to know that.

      • macoan says:

        I’m not sure how the car dealers would know or think a person is “incapacitated” – apparently this deal was in the process for days (Credit check ran a couple days before the accident).

        So apparently the guy start the car buying process in advance. On his own, tried to take a taxi there – unable to (Car dealers would not know this.)

        So guy calls up car dealership (my guess), so car dealership picks up man. (Question story about him being wheelchair bound and able to get into truck & drive truck – a lot of missing parts to story)

        Anyway, back to the point – car dealership people take him back to dealership – sign paperwork, and completed the deal.

        The man is only 67 years old, not like a person was 107 years old or something. Apparently still in good enough condition to drive the truck off the lot and drive well enough to evade police for awhile.

        AGAIN – there might be information missing (well lots of information missing) – but from the information I can see, car dealership has done nothing wrong in my opinion.

        • A.Mercer says:

          It is interesting to note that the taxi driver had enough sense to ask they people in the nursing home if the man was ok. However, the salesmen did not care to check out this detail. In the article it says the charge is for financial elder abuse. It would seem the charges would stem from the sale and not from the accident. It sounds like the salesmen took advantage of the person with dementia in order to make a sale.

          Stuff like this happens all of the time. Lots of people like to find people who are suffering from dementia but are still capable enough to sign a contract and hand over financial information.

          • macoan says:

            The place was called “Manteca Care and Rehabilitation Center” – so not sure how big the town is, or if the dealership people were local – but to me with a name like that does not ring out as a nursing home – sounds like a place anyone might for for some care (for example – football player breaks arm, goes to Manteca Care and Rehabilitation Center to go through theropy to help heal arm quicker…. is the type of thing I image when I see a name like that.)

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    It’s weird to me that the widow blames the car dealership more than she blames the rest home – if he had dementia, the rest home should have never let him out of their sight. The home was responsible for his safety and health. If the home had been more watchful, it wouldn’t have taken 90 minutes before someone realized he was missing.

  7. slsashrk96 says:

    Agreed. Are the salespeople supposed to have a moral or ethical obligation against selling to a person with an obvious handicap? Isn’t that discriminatory? Following that logic, do people sue the dealership when a person drives drunk and smashes their car into a pole or a crowd of people?

    It’s not the dealership’s responsibility to regulate use of the product. That’s the BMV. Provided that the driver was insured and licensed, how is there fault?

    • mythago says:

      Do you know what ‘financial elder abuse’ means, or are you just trolling?

    • Collateral Damage says:

      No, bartenders are the ones that get sued when they sell to someone clearly impaired and let them drive away. Even if they don’t get sued, they can lose their liquor licenses.

      Do they have a moral and ethical obligation to keep intoxicated patrons from driving? Hell yeah they do.

  8. rawley69 says:

    Maybe the man wasn’t so far gone that he wanted to have one last hurrah before he slipped even further into dimentia.

    I wouldn’t expect a car salesman to be all that up on diagnosis of mental illnesses either. Especially in a man that seems congnizant enough to hatch a plan to buy a truck and escape from a rest home.

    • MikeB says:

      People that have Dementia do not really know they have dementia. My 99 year old grandmother has dementia and unless you knew her or payed close attention to her you would not she has it.

  9. KlueBat says:

    I get the feeling there are a lot of details missing here.

    Working with what is there i can say that if the man had a license and proper insurance (if required) why shouldn’t they sell him a car?

    Car salesmen are not medical professionals and can not be expected to tell if someone is fit to drive or not.

  10. vitajex says:

    I think it’s disrespectful for the Modesto Bee to refer to the police with the Spanish word for ‘lard’…

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      **not sure if kidding***

      Manteca is a town near Modesto.

      The Valley has a lot of weird town names…
      Los Banos,

    • dangermike says:

      You know, most of my concern pver the story evaporated once the source was revealed to be the Modesto Bee. Modesto is like a little piece of the Florida panhandle up-planted and moved to Norcal. What might be a shocking or terrible story just about anywhere else in the US is just another day gone by up there.

  11. Limewater says:

    Unfortunately, there has been no public policy response to the sale of vehicles to the elderly.

  12. GMFish says:

    Who the dealers were really scamming was the finance company. The dealers know the guy will not make a single payment. But they don’t care, because the loan was already approved and they were fully paid.

    • Dover says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the finance company goes after the dealership in a civil suit if they are able to for failing to fully disclose information about the buyer.

      • akiri423 says:

        IDK about a civil suit, as it isn’t a dealership’s responsibility to disclose the attire or mental state of a purchaser to a lending institution, but the dealership would have its kickback taken back when the deal defaulted with no first payment made…

  13. tz says:

    “Colin said no charges are being sought against the care home, where Davis apparently was missing for 90 minutes before his sister came to visit him and couldn’t find him”.

    If he was that demented he belonged in a more secure institution both ways. He was functional enough to contact the dealership and arrange for for the sale, and apparently a taxi. And he died of a heart attack, not a crash (insert note on how ANY high speed police chase is dangerous). And the law states patients should be in “the least restrictive environment”. He might have had the attack in the home if there was a fuss preventing him from going out. One of the reasons restraints are used even on apparently capable people is to prevent tragedies like this, but they look like cruelty. Until something like this happens.

    Also his credit check should have bounced, his driver’s license should have been invalid (did he have it?), and he shouldn’t have had a way to send even a dollar for a down payment.

    As far as I can tell, the dealership broke no law. Maybe we need to require people to have an “I’m not crazy or stupid” licenses. Yes it is a tragedy.

  14. Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged says:

    If he had dementia, why did he still have a valid drivers license? Surely without a license, they couldn’t have sold him a car.

  15. mcs328 says:

    Should dealership get your whole medical history before buying a car? Deny people with heart disease who might have a heart attack and take out a sidewalk full of kids? How about people who’ve lost both their legs and used prosthetics? Where do you draw the line where it becomes discriminatory or you need a medical background to sell a car. It’s not the dealerships job to make these determinations in this case or any other cases.

    • borgia says:

      You are exactly right. That is the point of drivers licenses. The state controls who is safely allowed to drive. Not only that, but to drive off the lot with a fiananced car you have to have vaild insurance. Mentally incompentent people should have neither of those.

  16. Rask says:

    If you ask me they did the old guy a favor.

    His life sounded like it sucked pretty bad. He got a last tase of freedom and a huge thrill before finally passing away and ending his suffering.

    I mean let’s face it, under dementia, his life wasn’t oging to get any better..

    • FreshPorcupineSalad says:

      What if he had run over some of your family members in the process? Would the dealership have been doing them a favor too?

      • borgia says:

        You are arguing something that Rast is not arguing.
        Besides, the man did not run over anyone. If you want to make up random what ifs, what if he ran over the next future hitler.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      I secretly hope that a few days before my time would naturally be up, I slam into a concrete wall at high speed (alone in my car, of course) or something else cataclysmic that affects only me. It would be better than whiling away in a nursing home for a few years, and having had my grandmother and my father spend their last few years in nursing homes, it’s probably better for the family as well.

    • George4478 says:

      >>He got a last tase of freedom and a huge thrill before finally passing away and ending his suffering

      Don’t last tase me, bro!

  17. rpm773 says:

    What’s that picture?

    The seedier side of Mr Roger’s Neighborhood?

  18. GearheadGeek says:

    When our dad started showing signs of dementia, my sister and I talked him out of his driver’s license. Not just the card, but we had it canceled with the state as well. You just can’t be on alert 24/7, so you have to take what precautions are available in addition to being vigilant. This was quite some time before he needed 24-hour care from a nursing facility.

    At the time, we were more concerned about him driving off somewhere and getting lost, but later we had several incidents where he swore there were intruders in his house when no one else was there. My sister lived next door, the first couple of times he called her or came to her house to tell her, but eventually he called 911 in the middle of the night about it. So, in retrospect I can see a scenario where he thinks the cops trying to stop him are bad guys, etc. Dementia is a bitch.

  19. borgia says:

    Another thing to keep in mind is that most dealerships have shuttles that pick people up. So, the man calls the car dealership to be picked up, the shuttle driver picks him up and the shuttle driver would not know what the man was headed to the dealership for. Maybe to pick up a car he has in for repair, to sign paperwork to sell a car etc… The salesmen just see a man badly dressed. This man was not picked up from the “Manteca center for the mentally incompetent” This was called the manteca care and rehab center. This means nothing. These centers span the range from end of life care to real rehab centers like for instance after a car wreck in which case you would need a new car.

    As a final note, anyone who condems the dealership for not recognizing a mentally impaired individal has never been around them. Someone with dementia will have perfectly clear days and bad days a days in between. We will never know which man showed up at the dealership to sign these papers.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      My mother-in-law is now in a care facility because she’s very old and frail, with dementia. But before the frailness part set in, if you didn’t know her, it would take a while to figure out she had dementia. She’d talk about family members who stopped in for a visit (but they had passed away years before) and about animals she’d seen in the back yard (nope – no black plow horses or cows nearby to see). She could seem very normal to a stranger, but her close family members knew the difference.

  20. borgia says:

    My wife used to work with a woman that was employed by a state rehab program for the homeless. Anyone dealing with her for half an hour would realize that something was a little off with her mentally. However she lived on her own and got along in life just fine. Would a car dealership be required to try and deny selling her a car even though she had full legal control and rights over her own life? With mental impairment there are plenty of shades of grey.

  21. borgia says:

    I just remembered the name of a good experiment that showed that even trained proffesionals have a hard time sportting the mentally insane. For info wikipedia Rosenhan experiment especially read the The non-existent impostor experiment.

  22. Gulliver says:

    A lot of questions need to be answered:

    1. If he was so OBVIOUSLY had dementia, why does he have a DL?
    2. Why did the home allow him to leave? The whole point of dementia care is to avoid these kind of tragic occurances.
    3. The wife seemed to know all this stuff, yet did not inform the home? Did not have a conservertorship of his finances?
    4. Why is wearing slippers and pajama bottoms part of the story? I know a girl in the summer at a BIG TEN university wears her dads boxer shorts to class. I know plenty of guys who wear lounge pants (pajama bottoms)

    • slappysquirrel says:

      1. Good question
      2. Good question
      3. Good question
      4. While we all know college students who wear pajamas and are otherwise normal, I think the idea is that the dealers, like that cab driver, could have said “Hmm… We’re picking this old guy up from a rest home, he seems a little off and he is going to our dealership in bedroom slippers. There’s something strange going on here…” The pajamas don’t mean much on their own but are part of an overall pattern that looked weird to the cab driver and likely did look weird to the salesmen, who went with it anyway. It probably wasn’t elder abuse that they did so, but I bet their finance company won’t be happy with them.

  23. yessongs says:

    I guess you gotta be crazy to buy a car in this economy!!!

  24. sniega says:

    For god’s sake. People are NOT wheelchair bound unless they are having some sort of kinky sex ritual where they are tied to their wheelchair! They can and do get out of their chairs.

  25. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    I’m still looking for the cause of the high speed police chase. That’s my real inquiry into all this. Why did the police feel the need to try and stop him and why did he feel the need to lead them on a high speed chase? Was it for a simple traffic violation and his dementia kicked in or was he taking in one last hurrah. I say, Godspeed old chap.

  26. Collateral Damage says:

    Maybe the dementia wasn’t an issue when he got his license. My father was pretty much okay a year and a half ago, now he’s…not.

    How often do you have to get your DL renewed, in California? Here it’s every four years.