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Parents and mental health activists push for new mental health laws 3 years after tragic crash

Crash kills dad
Posted at 6:09 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 18:10:53-04

TAMPA, FLA.  — The parents of Mikese Morese said his battle with mental illness is the reason he drove into a New Tampa family, killing the father and injuring his sons three years ago.

“We knew we had a son with an untreated medical condition, for which we couldn’t get help,” said Mikese’ mother, Khadeeja Morse.

Mikese was found “not guilty by reason of insanity.” He has schizophrenia, and doctors say he was experiencing a “mental breakdown” when he drove into the father and his sons.

This coming Monday, A judge will decide what’s next for Mikese. That’s the reason his parents, Khadeeja and Michael Morse held a news conference with their lawyer Jhenerr Hines Wednesday morning. they are pushing for the judge to put him in a private care facility where he can get treatment, and “eventually be released and live his life.”

“My son has never committed a crime before this incident,” Michael said. “His medical condition caused this incident.”

His parents say the system failed him.

“Everything that we tried to do to prevent something like this from happening fell on deaf ears and the only services that are available are after you commit a crime,” Khadeeja said. “What is wrong with this picture?”

State Attorney Andrew Warren agrees with the family, saying the “system failed” Mikese. However he wants the judge to put him in a secure psychiatric hospital.

“the system is broken. and It’s unjust,” said Michael.

His parents don’t trust the system. It’s the same situation thousands of families across the state, and millions across the world are dealing with, said Natasha Pierre.

Pierre is the executive director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness for Hillsborough county.

“Unfortunately that’s the state of our system,” she said. “it’s a community, statewide, and national issue. Mental health isn’t occurring in a silo. Every person impacted by mental health is connected to a family that needs support.

According to Pierre, support is education, therapy, training, funding, housing and more facilities.

“We need more facilities for that in-between phase that transition phase between emergency and when they’re able to lead a healthy and fulfilling life.”

She said a facility like that might have prevented mikes from driving into that father and his sons in 2018.

ABC Action News did some digging and found that there are several bills dealing with mental health being debated in Tallahassee. One of those bills is Bill 405, the Post-Discharge Continuum of Care.

Upon discharge, the facility must inform a respondent with a serious mental illness of the essential elements of recovery and provide assistance.

This gives activists like Pierre hope. “I’m optimistic that it’s only going to get better from here,” she said.