BAY CITY, Mich. – A 93-year-old man froze to death inside his home just days after the municipal power company restricted his use of electricity because of unpaid bills, officials said.
Marvin E. Schur died "a slow, painful death," said Kanu Virani, Oakland County's deputy chief medical examiner, who performed the autopsy.
Neighbors discovered Schur's body on Jan. 17. They said the indoor temperature was below 32 degrees at the time, The Bay City Times reported Monday.
"Hypothermia shuts the whole system down, slowly," Virani said. "It's not easy to die from hypothermia without first realizing your fingers and toes feel like they're burning."
Schur owed Bay City Electric Light & Power more than $1,000 in unpaid electric bills, Bay City Manager Robert Belleman told The Associated Press on Monday.
A city utility worker had installed a "limiter" device to restrict the use of electricity at Schur's home on Jan. 13, Belleman said. The device limits power reaching a home and blows out like a fuse if consumption rises past a set level. Power is not restored until the device is reset.
The limiter was tripped sometime between the time of installation and the discovery of Schur's body, Belleman said. He didn't know if anyone had made personal contact with Schur to explain how the device works.
Schur's body was discovered by neighbor George Pauwels Jr.
"His furnace was not running, the insides of his windows were full of ice the morning we found him," Pauwels told the newspaper.
Belleman said city workers keep the limiter on houses for 10 days, then shut off power entirely if the homeowner hasn't paid utility bills or arranged to do so.
He said Bay City Electric Light & Power's policies will be reviewed, but he didn't believe the city did anything wrong.
"I've said this before and some of my colleagues have said this: Neighbors need to keep an eye on neighbors," Belleman said. "When they think there's something wrong, they should contact the appropriate agency or city department."
Schur had no children and his wife had died several years ago.
Bay City is on Saginaw Bay, just north of the city of Saginaw in central Michigan.
Okay, I posted this because I really don't agree with the guy from the city. Yes, you should keep an eye on your neighbors, but even if you had contacted the city, what were they going to do? They had no qualms about shutting off the heat. It just makes me want to cry to think about how he died...he deserved better. And BELOW THIRTY TWO INSIDE???? That's insane. And I'm guessing being 93 and a vet, he had a limited income as it was, which I'd surmise would be why he racked up that big bill.
Edited: I found more articles from the Michigan papers:
Looks like he had the cash, just probably couldn't get out in the weather to pay it.
The Michigan Attorney General is looking into this.