This was the headline the greeted me this morning in the Traverse City Record Eagle. I assumed from the title that it was going to be a tragic story of an Alzheimer’s patient who wandered off or even an ice fisherman that fell through the ice, but it was worse.
This happened in the man’s own home……. after his electrical company shut off all power to his home. Unbelievable that a company would do this as we move through the coldest winter that any of us can remember.
The man was 93 years old. His name was Marvin Schur. His neighbors discovered his frozen body on the 17th of January.
A representative of the Bay City Municipal electric company, Robert Belleman, told the associated press that the Marvin Schur had an over due electrical bill of over $1,000.00.
Evidently, when Marvin Schur got behind in his electrical payments, the city sent a worker out to install a "limiter" which restricted the amount of electricity to the home. The device not only limits power to the home, but it will blow out like a fuse if consumption levels rise past a set level. Then, power cannot be restored to the home until the device is reset.
Bay City Manager Robert Belleman said that city workers will install the limiter on the house and keep it there for 10 days. If the homeowner hasn’t brought the account current within that time frame, power is shut off completely. In this case, the limiter was installed on January 13th and Mr. Schur was found dead on the 17th., well before the 10 day period had run.
Even worse, Mr. Belleman and Bay City couldn’t confirm whether or not any Bay City worker made personal contact with Marvin Schur to explain to the elderly gentleman what was happening and to warn him that the limiter could suddenly, and without warning, shut off all power to the house. Another conern is whether at 93 years of age, Marvin Schur had the mental capacity to understand what he was being told.
This should never happen. Period. We’re lucky in the Grand Traverse region to have an organization like the Father Fred Foundation who can help individuals who are stuck in a similar situation to Marvin Schur.
If you read this and want to make sure what happened in Bay City doesn’t happen here, make a donation to the Father Fred Foundation by clicking here. Your small donation can make sure that families without food can eat; that families without money have heat, and families whose children are cold, have winter coats, hats and boots.
If you are reading this and need help, click here and get immediately in touch with someone at the Foundation.
Lastly, everyone needs to keep an eye out for our neighbors, especially, our elderly neighbors like Marvin Schur. This is a brutally cold winter coupled with a brutal economic situation, but if we look out for each other, we can make sure that what happened to Marvin Schur never happens again.
Mr. Smith has practiced as a trial attorney since graduating Notre Dame Law School in 1992. He has litigated cases across the country including cases from Ventura County, California to Middlesex County, New Jersey. He practices in both State and Federal courts.