A 69-year-old Vietnam veteran was found frozen to death in his home in Hazel Park, Michigan. Veteran John Skelley, who had been battling throat cancer, was found dead from hypothermia in his home after his gas service was disconnected by Consumers Energy.
Why did this happen? That is what the state of Michigan is trying to determine as they ordered Consumers Energy to provide them with an investigative report.
Skelley’s daughter, Tanya Mitchell, was also seeking answers. She told reporters that her father was suffering from throat cancer but had been out of touch with his family, who did not know where he was living.
And while there was an outstanding balance of $760.28 - which was in the name of another man - there are laws in place that prevent cutting off utilities of older residents in winter with programs to help them pay off their balance.
According to Michigan Public Service Commission spokeswoman Judy Palnau, utility companies are prohibited from from shutting off heat to homes of residents aged 65 and older during the winter months - specifically between November 1 and March 31.
The state - and the Vietnam veteran's family - would like to know why Consumers Energy did not follow their own shutoff protection protection for people 65 and older.
"This recent Hazel Park death from apparent hypothermia is indeed tragic, and our sympathy goes out to his family, friends and all who've been affected by his loss," the company said in a statement. "Following today's order from the Michigan Public Service Commission, we will file a report about this incident." The report is due March 31.
In the only bit of good news to come out of the tragic death of this Vietnam veteran, Hangin' with the Heroes, a metro Detroit-based organization that helps veterans, pooled resources and raised money to provide Skelley with a full military burial.
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