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Bend homeless man dies outdoors as region experiences bitter cold

Double-amputee lost legs to frostbite; tragedy points to limited shelter space

BEND, Ore.(KTVZ) -- There is now much heartbreak after David Savory, 57, a disabled homeless man in Bend, was found deceased Tuesday morning after a cold night outdoors as temperatures got down to 19 degrees.

He was found next to the Rite Aid on South Third Street.

Community members say Savory was a double-amputee whose legs were amputated due to frostbite complications. He got around in a wheelchair.

Liz Wunder, who manages Teen Challenge, a business near where Savory was found, said Wednesday that homeless people sleeping outside in the cold is, sadly, a quite common sight.

"I've seen people out here with no blankets at all, just sleeping on the cement," she said. "Same thing with our back alleyway. We'll just find them laying on the concrete back there."

So it's not rare to see those facing homelessness sleeping outdoors in extreme conditions.

"Below freezing, for sure. I've been at this location for years, so I've seen quite a bit," she said.

Colleen Thomas, co-chair of the Homeless Leadership Coalition. said despite her efforts to find Savory a warm place to stay, she was unable to do so.

She said Savory was unable to pass a Breathalyzer test to get into what she called high-barrier shelters, but that there was another, familiar issue.

"There's limited resources," Thomas said. "There's limited bed availability. He was on every waitlist possible."

Thomas said she believes the lack of resources was a bigger issue in Savory's case.

"Because if we were able to have a warming shelter open, or a low-barrier shelter, then he would have had that access to that resource," she said.

After a search for a new site, a Bend winter warming shelter is scheduled to open in coming weeks.

But Thomas believes there should be year-round, low barrier housing available.

"We can't continue to see stories like Dave's in the news. or in my day-to-day life. It's, just -- it's unfortunate."

A group of community members has set up a fundraiser for Thomas.

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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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