By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
On Tuesday, a homeless amputee named Dave, died of cold weather exposure behind Rite Aid on 3rd Street.
Just days before, Melody Horner crossed paths with Dave, who lost his legs to frostbite earlier this year.
“It really opened my eyes to how big of a problem this is,” Horner said. “Because we think I would like to help this person, you go buy them a coat or a meal. But there needs to be a long term solution, because it’s a literal matter of life and death.”
Horner raised money and called countless shelters, all of which couldn’t take Dave in because they were either full or denied Dave for reasons Horner was not willing to share.
Even motels would not allow Dave to stay without an ID.
“We exhausted the options for him,” Horner said. “It wasn’t enough.”
Colleen Thomas, Homeless Leadership Coalition co-chair, said the huge gap in shelter beds and resources is not helping Central Oregon’s homeless population.
“We do have service providers that have stepped up to the plate and are able to provide the service for shelters,” Thomas said. “But finding a permanent location is really one of the struggles we have.”
Tom McBride, a Eugene resident visiting Bend, would check on Dave often.
Including the day he passed.
“I knew it was a cold night so I came in and checked on him really early in the morning,” McBride said. “All I found was his wheelchair and clothing that had been cut off of him. That really hurt.”
McBride says Dave had plans to move to San Diego, and that he was going to help him get to a bus station.
Horner says she hopes Dave’s story inspires residents and city officials to take action.
“You don’t have to be the leader of an organization to do something good,” Horner said. “No one should die in the cold.”
Horner will be donating the money she raised for Dave to the REACH, a Central Oregon resource for homelessness.