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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.

Comments

49 Comments

      1. Mr Lerten- can you please clarify the acronym POS from this poster- as I believe it is clearly a violation of the TOS. I say this because you once called me out to clarify the term “D-Bag”… which I noted meant “Doggy Bag” ! What’s fair is fair- and I’d like to know what POS means !

        1. Piece of stuff. Like WTF can be what the fudge. We try to err on the side of freedom of speech, of which you’re hate-filled missives accusing others of hate are an… example. Extreme hypocrisy, day in and day out, is not in and of itself a Terms of Service violation. It’s just very sad.

          1. Did you clarify this with the poster as I asked- or are you just giving us your own opinion ? Kinda like the words “President Elect Biden”- with no bases in fact- outside the laws as of our US Constitution- Yet to be confirmed by the Electoral College… you mean like that… another misguided Z21 opinion ? Very sad indeed- I’ve pretty much given up hope that the propaganda would cease after election day- instead it’s being ramped up to the point that Gun sales are surging nationwide- any opinions as to why ? Maybe later- after I post another one of my “I told ya so” comments !

    1. If people weren’t allowed to live on the street, they wouldn’t freeze to death. It is by allowing, and encouraging these people to do so that leads to this type of death, caused by their own decision. By enabling this type of behavior, society only increases the tragedy.

        1. And you’re surprised? First of all bud, it’s spelled “breathalyzer”. No shock that you can’t manage that. If you delve into historical records you’ll find that the creation of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals precede modern social work by decades, both in England and the US. Oh! You can look up “precede” in any dictionary. Sometimes I forget who I’m speaking to.

      1. I know when people have alcohol or drug problems, there is always the possibility
        for the person to be violent or disruptive, but when the weather gets cold enough
        that it is potentially a matter of life or death, I don’t think passing a breathalyzer test should be a requirement for someone to stay alive…

  1. As of 2 days ago there was over 1000 dollars in the go fund me account for this guy, why wasnt it used?? Bad enough to kill people for being alcoholics but to even try to help and still screw up, we need to do better

      1. So you’re saying if they can suspect you of having alcohol on your breath you should be denied shelter? I think there’s a difference between driving under the influence and seeking shelter while under the influence.

        1. Non (clue) Deplorable.. Society has rules. Workplaces have them…schools, households, any functioning group and so do shelters! Do people bend over backwards and forwards to help family and friends with substance problems? I have and maybe even you, too. If so it’s a sad reality there are those who for WHATEVER reason are hell bent to isolate and self destruct sometimes sooner when kind folks do their utmost.

    1. Here is a better article about him. It’s pretty bad when one of the newspapers
      from Portland has a better story than the local media. The story seems to have gotten
      a lot of coverage because I found articles from other t.v stations from other cities…
      https://www.oregonlive.com/news/2020/11/homeless-man-dies-overnight-as-temperatures-dropped-in-bend.html

      I did read that he supposedly has an ex-wife that lives in Sisters, and a daughter that lives somewhere in California. I also read that supposedly a friend of his gave him an old motor home to live in, but he traded it for booze. Obviously he had some issues, but
      people that talked to him and tried to help him said he was very friendly, and a nice guy.

        1. I did notice the mention of the Bulletin when I first read their story,
          but I don’t know why I didn’t remember to give them credit. It didn’t
          really click that they are partners… Thanks Barney

          1. You’re welcome. TV and print media have tradeoff pluses/minuses (speed vs. depth, though the web can equalize to some degree).
            It’s a very sad story. Putting a name, fact and story to a tough-to-solve issue can spur action… but it won’t be simple or easy.

  2. This is a Catch 22. Lost legs then life to cold because he couldn’t stop drinking. Had you had given him money for a room its likely he would of chosen to keep the money for more alcohol. Giving people money or a place to stay does not make them stop drinking but many people who stop drinking end up finding a warm place to stay because it becomes their priority. Some would say arresting this kind of person is cruel and inhumane but is it really? Had he been arrested more often he might have kept his legs and his life. Even Otis on Andy Griffith never froze to death and eventually got sober.

    1. People that give up booze or drugs will look at things differently. When a person is addicted, their main priority is making sure that they can get more of whatever it is
      that they are addicted to. Everything else becomes secondary…
      Back before the virus changed everything, I wouldn’t have thought that it was cruel or inhumane to arrest someone like him because spending a few days in jail would get them
      out of the weather and they would have food. Now it would be pointless to arrest the
      person because in most cases, they are simply cited and released….
      Regarding Otis; he was an actor on a t.v show, and not a good comparison to people
      who are addicted in real life…

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