Father of plantation family sought mental health assistance one year prior to murders – NBC 6 South Florida

Forty-year-old Jean Carlos Aponte, an Army veteran and Purple Heart honoree, was found in critical condition at a hospital after what appears to be a self-induced drug overdose. On Tuesday, his wife Sara Ashley Gama and 2-year-old son Ethan were discovered dead inside their home.

Chris Haley, a retired Army veteran and founder of the Catch A Lift Fund, spoke with NBC6 on Wednesday about Aponte’s tragic death. Haley had accepted Aponte into the program to help him address his mental health struggles. “It’s a bummer because that is the whole reason why our organization exists,” Haley said. “It’s to kind of stop this. So when it does happen, it’s pretty shocking because that’s kinda what we’re trying to avoid.”

Haley explained that Aponte was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury. He said that Aponte had expressed a strong desire to make things right for his family. “That was one of the things I remember very clearly is he wanted to do things right and be a positive example for his family,” he said.

The investigation into Aponte’s death is still active, but no charges have been filed yet. Police spent Wednesday searching for evidence in the canal behind the couple’s home, including what neighbors believe may have been a cellphone belonging to Aponte or Gama before their deaths.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues or experiencing crisis, please call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or chat live at 988lifeline.org. You can also visit SpeakingOfSuicide

By Sophia Gonzalez

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