Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's been cold here.

I love how they use the word 'campers' in the story below. That's what my hobo, Sean, calls his version of homelessness. He was an Eagle Scout. I tend to believe this because he truly is the most well-groomed hobo I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.

He's hanging tough. I saw him today against the condolas, toting plastic bags full of ripple & beef jerky, as he eventually crossed over the tracks and into his camp.

Jeff Branham, 42 (left), Robert Worden, 42, and Kenny "Wolf" Neibel, 43, warm themselves around a fire Wednesday in the 500 block of Linn Street.

Segue: I'm bummed about poker. In so many ways, it's the end of an era. But on the flip side, somehow this experiment turned into a pr7.

Now go read Otis:
The Last Poker Game


Homeless man died in cold
February 1, 2007
Fellow campers say he didn't want to go to shelter

QUEENSGATE - A homeless man found dead Wednesday morning in an outdoor camp near downtown Cincinnati was seriously ill and expected to die soon, his friends said.

Investigators were at the scene of the camp in the 500 block of Linn Street near Hamilton County's Queensgate medium-security jail, under a viaduct behind Queensgate Food Service.

It wasn't clear what caused the man's death - the extreme cold, his illness or injuries he suffered when his tent caught fire Tuesday afternoon. Overnight temperatures fell to 14 degrees and wind chills near zero in some areas.

Officials at the Hamilton County Coroner's Office said an autopsy was conducted Wednesday but the result will not be released until the coroner has reviewed it.

Officials said the death was not a homicide.

The man who died had throat cancer, diabetes and was an alcoholic, said the three men who also lived at the camp, which has been in existence for at least two years.

"He froze to death," said one of them, Kenneth "Wolf" Niebel, 43. "He was sick. He has been sick for a while, though. He had throat cancer."

The bitter cold overnight prompted the city of Cincinnati to declare a winter shelter emergency until 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The city also opened a temporary shelter at the Over-the-Rhine community center Tuesday night to get people out of the cold.

But Niebel and the other two men at the camp said they refuse to go to shelters, even after their friend's death.

"We always stay out," Niebel said. "Always.

"It's a way of life. We wouldn't consider going to a shelter unless it turned really, really, really bad. Then, maybe - and even then it's a maybe. Shelters are nasty. It's safer out here."

Another homeless man at the camp, Jeff Branham, said he also doesn't go to shelters.

"There's more problems there than we are going to have out here," Branham, 42, said. "About the only thing we have to worry about is severe weather. At shelters, the people that stay there, there's trouble.

"There's body lice and filth," he said. "People just let themselves go. I mean, I am out here and I am not the cleanest man in the world, but I keep cleaner than that."

Despite their friend's death, the men said they preferred to stay Wednesday night at another homeless camp nearby on Dalton Avenue.

Cincinnati firefighters were called shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday to the camp for a report of smoke in the area and a small fire in a rail yard.

Niebel and Branham said their friend had accidentally set his tent on fire with a kerosene heater trying to stay warm.

He refused medical treatment for burns when firefighters tried to take him to the hospital, they said.

Before firefighters arrived, the two men said they had dragged their friend away from the flames, put him around their fire and covered him with blankets.

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