I-Team: Lawsuit filed over Alzheimer's patient released from jail, killed on highway

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Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith has been slapped with another lawsuit. This time, over the death of an Alzheimer's patient released from the jail on his own. The man wandered for 10 hours and eventually got onto the highway where he was hit by a car and killed. (KGO-TV)

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith has been slapped with another lawsuit. This time, over the death of an Alzheimer's patient released from the jail on his own. The man wandered for 10 hours and eventually got onto the highway where he was hit by a car and killed. The I-Team first reported the incident in February.

The lawsuit says a friend of the Alzheimer's patient tried to pick him up from jail, but deputies gave out bad information and wouldn't cooperate. For the first time, Dan Noyes also reached the driver who hit the man and kept going.

The lawsuit filed this week against Santa Clara County and Sheriff Laurie Smith tells the same story the I-Team did in February, that the County Jail released 65-year-old Vladimir Matyssik, an Alzheimer's patient, on his own. He wandered for ten hours and more than eight miles, finally ending up on 880 south of Dixon Landing Road. Drivers called for help.

Dispatcher: "911."
Female 911 Caller: "There's a man on the 880 freeway."
2nd Female 911 Caller: "He's like in between the cars."

Before police could arrive, a car mowed him down. The driver called in and said, "I was on the freeway and someone just ran- just jumped right in front of my car (sobs)."

You can then hear the dispatcher say, "Hello?"

The plaintiff's attorney, Walter Haynes, told the I-Team, "This would be akin to releasing a child from custody and not giving the child to a parent."

Haynes has filed the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Matyssik's daughter, Kristina, who's back at college in Southern California. Dan Noyes interviewed her for our first report.

Dan: "What do you miss about your dad?"
Kristina: "Just trying not to cry. His laughter, his humor. I was definitely a daddy's girl when I was younger and he was definitely my best friend."

This sad chain of events started when Vladimir wandered into the Jewish Community Center in Los Gatos, and they pressed a trespassing charge.

After family friend Mike Pavlov told the judge about Vladimir's Alzheimer's, he dropped the charge "in the interest of justice" and ordered Vladimir released. Pavlov went next door to the Main Jail in San Jose.

He told Dan Noyes in February, "I swear, I can swear I was saying those words, 'Don't release him on his own, I'm going to pick him up.'"

But Pavlov told us he couldn't get any cooperation or information from the deputies and that he stayed at the jail for hours, waiting for Vladimir. Pavlov went for food and returned at 9 p.m. that night to shocking news.

"And the officer at the window says, 'He has been released.' My first question was when and how? Nobody calls me," said Pavlov.

He drove the neighborhood searching for Vladimir, but couldn't find him.

The lawsuit says that despite what that front desk deputy may have said, they held Vladimir overnight and released him the next morning. He was all alone.

"I just keep thinking how my dad felt, how terrified he must have been just leaving the jail," Kristina said.

Vladimir walked the opposite direction from his house and wound up on the highway, where a 25 year-old driver from Sunnyvale hit him.

Dan Noyes broke the news to the driver this week that she is also being sued. She declined to be interviewed and asked that we not show her face or use her name, because she is still devastated by what happened.

Dan: "Is that the reason the driver is named in the suit?"
Walter: "It is."
Dan: "That she left the scene?"
Walter: "She fled the scene, she's involved in a motor vehicle accident and, in this instance, killed a pedestrian."

Haynes tells the I-Team he hopes the Sheriff's Office will improve practices at the jail.

The Santa Clara County Counsel's Office told Dan Noyes they have not been served yet, and would not comment on pending litigation.

In a statement, Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Sgt. James Jensen said:

"Mr. Matyssik was released the morning of November 6, 2015 at 7:40 am from the Santa Clara County Main Jail. His release followed established procedures. Unfortunately, we learned that over 10 hours after his release, Mr. Matyssik was killed in a pedestrian accident. Mr. Matyssik's family has filed a claim with the county and as such we are prohibited from discussing any additional facts about this matter."

Click here to watch our first report on this story.

Click here for more investigative reports by Dan Noyes and the I-Team.
Related Topics:
newsI-Teaminmatesprisonsanta clara countyinvestigationsheriffI-880Alzheimer's Diseasealzheimerscar accidentcrashpedestrian injuredpedestrian struckpedestrianslawsuitSan Jose
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