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Michigan Man Froze To Death In His Own Home

posted 1/29/2009 3:33:01 AM |
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This is a part of an article I read written by The Associated Press Wed, Jan 28th.
All copy rights belong to them..

BAY CITY, Mich. – When neighbors went inside Marvin Schur's house, the windows were frosted over, icicles hung from a faucet, and the 93-year-old World War II veteran lay dead on the bedroom floor in a winter jacket over four layers of clothing.

He froze to death — slowly and painfully, authorities say — days after the electric company installed a power-limiting device because of more than $1,000 in unpaid bills.

The old man's sad end two weeks ago has led to outrage, soul-searching and a resolve never to let something like this happen again.

"There's got to be a way in today's computer age they can find out if someone's over a certain age," said Chad Sepos, 37, a copy machine installer who lives a block away in this Lake Huron city of 34,000 people, about 90 miles from Detroit. "It's just sad."

One of the saddest things of all was that Schur appeared to have plenty of money, and, in fact, one of the neighbors who entered the home reported seeing cash clipped to a pile of bills on the kitchen table. Schur's nephew suggested the old man's mind may have been slipping.

Schur, or "Mutts," was a retired foundry worker who lived alone, his wife having died a couple of years ago. The couple had no children. He could often be seen through the big front window of his comfortably furnished home of 50 or 60 years, watching TV or keeping an eye on his neighborhood.

On Jan. 13, a worker with the city-owned utility installed a "limiter" on Schur's electric meter after four months of unpaid bills. The device restricts power and blows like a fuse if usage rises past a set level. Electricity is not restored until the device is flipped back on by the homeowner, who must walk outside to the meter.

Bay City Electric Light & Power did not contact Schur face-to-face to notify him of the device and explain how it works, instead following its usual policy by leaving a note on the door. But neighbors said Schur rarely, if ever, left the house in the cold.

At some point, the device evidently tripped and was not reset, authorities said. Schur's home was heated by a gas furnace, not electricity, but some gas furnaces do not work properly if the power is out.

Neighbors discovered Schur's body on Jan. 17 in his home, a yellow house with peeling paint. The outside temperature ranged from a high of 12 degrees to a low of minus 9 on Jan. 15, the day he was believed to have died. A heating pad was on his favorite armchair by the window. The oven door was open, perhaps to heat the place.

"The body has a tremendous fighting power for survival. He died a slow, painful death," said Dr. Kanu Virani, who found frostbite on Schur's foot when performing the autopsy. Investigators are trying to establish how long he was without electricity.

City officials are reviewing their procedures and in the meantime have suspended shutoffs and removed all limiters from homes after using the devices for 18 years.

How awful and painful his last hours, maybe even days, must have been for him. This is so sad and heart wrenching.

Do you think they should be allowed to shut off utilities during cold months?
What about these limiters? And contacting someone if all the sudden payment just stops, especially after years of on time payments?

Do you think anyone should be held liable for his death?

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Jan 29 @ 6:46AM  
That is sad and it seems it happens every winter.

Jan 29 @ 8:00AM  
That is so sad!!!
The power company had to of known whoever was there was gonna freeze! But ...then again..everything is so electronic..noone looks at your bill till you complain!
I have never heard of the device that they had on his house....WTF? They needed to do away with that during the Peak of winter!!! Ya think?
I say put the Big dicks from the Power co. in his house with no fuggin heat!(during the coldest part of winter!)
Here in VA. the "Power companies" send a lil letter with the bill asking Ppl to help pay for power for those who cant afford to pay..!
Let me get this straight... They want me.. to help pay a bill..that they control?...hmmmm...couldnt they just reduce the amount of the bill's themselves? With out ....making someone else pay for it? I mean... is a few bucks worth killing someone?
My 2 cents!

Jan 29 @ 8:08AM  
I thought they had laws that they can't shut off power in the winter.....No matter what.....That's so terrible.

Jan 29 @ 8:31AM  
That is terrible!! here in Atlanta, they installed new water meters that are faulty and all these people have huge bills. there is now an investigation going on about it. Should someone be held liable for his death? A part of me says yes, and the other part says no. That's a tough call.

Jan 29 @ 9:12AM  
I read this on also was so upset when I first read it.
They shouldn't be aloud to turn off any utility during the winter but they do..
But here atleast they started this year was if you are to be shut off they only do it during the day hours and turn them back on at night.. I don't know if that is any better.....

Jan 29 @ 9:19AM  
Someone definitely should be held accountable for his death.....and personally, I'm leaning toward the Nephew........

Time for the world to wake up and take responsibility for itself, instead of seeking a non-entity to place blame on...

I find it incomprehensible that someone would have an elderly relative that lives alone and they can't "find the time" to simply check on them (daily, if neccessary).
Yeah, I know, It's such an inconvience to drive by someone's house after work to make sure they are ok, rather than rush home to grab a beer and plop down in front of the TV.

Schur's nephew suggested the old man's mind may have been slipping.
Even more reason that his extended family should have been watching out for him.


Jan 29 @ 10:25AM  
I thought they had laws that they can't shut off power in the winter
Technically, they didn't shut it off. But I believe they should have taken 2 minutes and knocked on the door and TOLD him what they were doing and why. How hard would that have been?!? The dumbasses!!

I agree a lot with you, Straight. I don't know why the nephew hadn't checked on him just because he cared...and his age...and then the cold weather. But,Especially if he thought his mind was slipping.
Again, how hard would that have been?!?

That poor man died a painful death for no reason other than people being lazy and inconsiderate.

Jan 29 @ 10:36AM  
You made me want to cry Is this what our U.S. is coming to?? I don't care if they did use this method for 18 years. Notification should have been hand delievered and when they seen a senior citizen a family member should have been called. That poor man so much for caring people huh??

Jan 29 @ 11:05AM  
That really makes me mad and sad at the same time! Last year a house in my town burned down because the gas company shut off their gas and so they had a candle burning for heat and it caused a fire, which killed the mother and her children...I think 5 of them. So last year they passed a law because of that happening where the utlities couldn't get shut off between, I think it was, November through March. I thought they were going to do it again this year, but they didn't.

So, apparently people have to die in order for something drastic like that to happen. Greedy, money-hungry bastards

Jan 29 @ 11:30AM  
I don't have the words to express the outrage that this incurs.. I'm just disgusted.. beyond disgusted. No one should have to freeze to death because they can't afford utilities.

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Michigan Man Froze To Death In His Own Home