Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Neglectful freezing deaths

Two very disturbing stories surfaced in January of this year. The first involved an unreported death; the second, a preventable one.

A 93-year-old World War II veteran and widower, Martin Schur, froze to death in his own home. The electricity had been cut off due to non-payment (he was 4 months behind and owed about $1,100) and the temperature inside the Bay City, Michigan, house had plummeted to 32 degrees. He was found by his neighbors, who noticed money clipped to the Bay City Electric Light and Power bills nearby. Even more ironic is the fact that Schur--who had been a medic in the Army--bequeathed more than half a million dollars to the local Bay Regional Medical Center.

Life went on around a man whose body was frozen at the bottom of an elevator shaft in the abandoned Roosevelt Warehouse in Detroit. An urban explorer who prowls the ruins of the city noticed the frozen legs "sticking out like Popsicle sticks," but did not call police because he was trespassing; instead, he played hockey with some friends while still in the building. The homeless men who occupy the warehouse knew of the corpse, but didn't recognize him; they assumed someone else had reported the death, and explained that they did not have a cell phone or a quarter. So they ignored the body for the better part of a month.

It is a strange coincidence that both of these stories took place in Michigan. After he succeeded in bringing the fire department to the scene of the frozen man in the warehouse, reporter Charlie LeDuff writes that the "series of events over the past few, frigid days causes one to wonder how cold the collective heart has grown."

No comments:

Post a Comment

You may add your comments here.