I woke up to see this story in the news this morning. A 93-year-old Michigan man named Marvin Schur froze to death inside his home in January. He hadn’t paid his bill for four months, so the utility company installed a power limiting device in his home. The device tripped, shutting off his electricity entirely, and the man died four days after the installation. Apparently customers can reset the devices themselves, but I think we can all imagine how a 93-year-old man would be unable to make it outside in the frigid Michigan winter to fiddle around with an electronic device.
When neighbors went inside Marvin Schur’s house, it was so cold that icicles were hanging from the faucets and the windows were frosted over. Schur was lying on his bedroom floor with multiple layers of clothing, and the door of his oven was open, indicating that he had made attempts to keep warm. It appears that the World War II veteran may have been suffering from dementia, as there was enough cash lying around Shur’s house to cover his entire bill.
This man slipped through the cracks. No one had bothered to investigate *why* he wasn’t paying his bills, or if he needed some sort of assistance. I am just astounded that anyone would think it acceptable to put any sort of mechanical device limiting access to a basic need like electricity in the home of an elderly person (or any of the other fragile members of our society) and expect them to be responsible for fixing it if it works improperly. The company didn’t even bother speaking to Schur about the device- they simply installed it and left a note by the door.
The title of my post might seem like an exaggeration. But the bottom line is that if the utility company HAD been paid, this man would still be alive. They installed that device because of money. As it turns out Schur had the money to pay, but not the mental faculties to do so, but that should not make a bit of difference. People should not be at risk of dying for a lack of heat in this country, regardless of their ability to pay. I doubt that I will ever get the image of this man-dying a slow and painful death on the floor of his home, bundled in layer upon layer of clothing, wondering why he couldn’t get warm- out of my mind. And I hope that the people at Bay City Electric Light & Power company can’t, either.