93-year-old froze to death, owed big utility bill

OMG, this is horrible. Doesn’t Michigan have a law against shutting off power during the winter?

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.


But the power company didn’t check on the limiter fuse for two weeks! And the city manager says that the utility company did nothing wrong!

This is so sad. Unfortunately, I believe this is going to start happening a lot more often. Utility bills are skyrocketing and people are losing their jobs. And of course, business is business.

“Business is business” is right. This economy has made me realize just how little many companies care for either their customers or their employees.

How awful! Can you imagine having lived 93 years and then freezing to death?

we have a law in our state if anyone pays anything on their utility bill, then the electricity can’t be shut off. Unfortunately, there are people who aren’t aware of this provision.

It is important that we pray for everyone in this cold weather. Just because someone has a house, doesn’t necessarily mean they have heat.

I believe in PA that there are regulations that utilities can not be turned off in the winter. Most people get their notices in the spring time.

Well, this sounds like Scrooge but do we expect power companies to provide utilities for free? I think the news said this gentleman had an unpaid bill of $1000.00 or so.
What happened back in the day when folks ran out of firewood?If family, community or church didn’t help out, they froze.
The government & utility companies should not be in the business of giving out free electricity.But that stated as a philosophy, it’s still a very sad tale. Where were his family,friends,church,community service organizations?

Well, I hope that killing the poor old guy by allowing him to freeze to death was just compensation for their lousy $1000.00.

If I’d been in his place, I’d probably have gone downtown to a jewelry store and heaved a brick through the front window. At least the jails are warm, and they feed you for free.

I certainly think most utility companies have policies that would have allowed the heat to stay on, however there is a much bigger problem here. I know people that age living alone need supervision of some sort. I go weekly to visit an aunt who is “90”. She was at one time very alert and capable. With each passing year I need to help with more tasks, including going with her to the doctor appointments. Our elderly are vulnerable and should not be left to do everything on their own. I will say a prayer for this poor man. It is really sad how many people do not have family to help them.

I do not think the electric company was intending for anyone to get hurt. I feel it was an unfortunate incident, for there are many agencies that would have helped the man.

Aren’t there allowances for elderly americans for winter fuel bills? Here in the UK pensioners get around the equivalent of $800 dollars each year for the winter months to cope with cold weather. More in some remote places like the Scottish highlands - in Ireland where my family is from originally they receive free heating once they start claiming old age pensions.

Wow, this is sad. I know here in Iowa that the utilities can not be shut off during the winter months, so things like this are less likely to happen.

I see nothing wrong with having a law that prohibits a company from turning off one’s utilities during winter. The consequences can be deadly and the company knows this.

$1,000 or a human life?

That question should of course not even need to be asked in a Christian context - as to ‘back in the day’ -why yes let’s all pop ‘back in the day’ to when ifnant mortality was outrageously high, when basic sanitation didn’t exsist and other such fun things.

The almighty dollar/pound/rouble (insert your own national currency there as desired people) should NEVER EVER take precedence over human life.

So what if everybody decides that they do not have to pay during winter? Does the company get to decided not to pay their fuel bill in the winter? Should the company just fire someone so this man can have free electricity? Why should any elderly person have to pay for anything? Why are the different than this man? Should that power company give away all there money and power for free and go bankrupt, than next year no one has any energy and everyone can die in the cold. True fairness, everyone’s equal everyone’s dead. I really do not have much pity for this man. He did not pay his bill, he was a thief and hurt other families when they have to pick up his bill every winter raising the price more on decent families that work. Also is it that hard of a concept to save for retirement, or was he planning to live the grasshopper lifestyle forgetting about the consequences of those actions. Aesop was right way back than and is still right today.

Wow, I’m feeling kinda chilly now myself. I think I’ll go turn up my heat a bit because that entire comment was really freaking cold.

Human life is always more important than money, always, and any philosophy, ideology, or principles that frown on getting in the way of making money. And no, everyone isn’t going to stop paying their utilities bills in the winter because they know spring is coming and they’ll be hit with a huge bill or have their utilities shut off. To say otherwise is utterly ridiculous. Many areas have such laws and they seem to get by just fine.

As for all your comments about this poor man, you know not a single thing about him, why he didn’t have money, etc. You have no right to judge him.

How can you say you have no pity for this man in light of the twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew?

A $1000.00 bill can be run up in just a short time depending on the type of fuel he had and the size of his house. I do think that the power company had some responsibility to send this elderly customer to a state agency or something similar. If nothing else, the person who’s job it was to call about the unpaid bill could have called an agency when they realized that this man was elderly and living alone. Even here in VA where the winters don’t get all that cold, there are programs for elderly or indigent people to have heat bills paid in the winter.

I’m sorry. I guess the 93 year old man should have gotten himself a job.:rolleyes:

The limiter is reset by the user, it’s closer to a circuit breaker than a fuse that needs to be replaced.

That’s not how these programs work. The customer eventually has to pay the bill; they’re usually just getting a break when the prices are so high during the cold months. In my area (where it’s been 30-40 below w/wind chill) there is energy assitance for low income families and the power and gas companies have no-shut off during certain times and a program where the bill is averaged out throughout the year.

I don’t know how his bill got so high or if he was eligible for assistance or needed someone to help keep his bills paid and finances straight.

Also, let’s not be too quick to condemn the electric company. I don’t think they were trying to stick to the old man. He was one of many not paying the elelctric bill and perhaps it appeared that notices/bills were being ignored instead of an elderly person with a deteriorating ability to take care of his home and finances.

That’s probably quite possible and I don’t place the blame solely on the electric company. Others are at fault, too. It is a sad story and hopefully steps will be taken to prevent it from happening again.

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