List of homeless who didn't survive the streets totals 42


Eight accidentally overdosed on drugs.

Four others were beaten or shot to death.

Malnutrition contributed to the deaths of two more.

Most of them died alone, along the side of the road, in alleys, vacant lots or on the concrete floor of a drainage tunnel.

The Clark County coroner's office has released its grim annual list of homeless people who died during the year.

The office compiles the list before an annual December vigil, organized by homeless outreach workers, to memorialize those who died with few or no one to mourn or remember them. Similar events are taking place nationwide this month.

"These are the stark realities on the streets every day," said Linda Lera-Randle El, longtime director of the Straight from the Streets homeless outreach program. "Each of these people matters. They shouldn't be forgotten."

This year's vigil will be at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at HELP of Southern Nevada, 1640 E. Flamingo Road near Tamarus Street.

The list this year includes 42 people: 39 men and three women. Most of them were in their 40s or 50s.

Drugs or alcohol were contributing factors in 11 of the deaths. Four were homicides. Five of the deaths were caused at least in part by exposure to the elements. Only 13 of the deaths, so far, have been ruled natural. The cause of death was undetermined or still pending for nine of those on the list.

Outreach workers say they often come across deathly ill homeless people. These they especially try to rescue from the streets.

One of the rescued was Bret Brennan, who was quoted in a May 4 Review-Journal article about the outreach efforts of Gail Sacco, an activist for the homeless.

Brennan, 48, who was suffering from cancer, was one of several homeless people Sacco got off the street and housed in a home she owns.

He died Nov. 17 in a hospice facility Sacco had arranged for him.

"I've had homeless friends who have died on the street," she said. "It's like they're throwaways."

Often, homeless people are estranged from family and friends because of addictions or other issues, Sacco said. When they get ill, they have no one to turn to.

Brennan, for example, "couldn't give up his drink," she said.

Still, "everyone deserves dignity and respect," especially in their final days, Sacco said.

Outreach workers from Straight from the Streets earlier this year came across a homeless man who was suffering from advanced lung cancer, Lera-Randle El said. They arranged housing and sought medical care for the man, 61-year-old Willie Danielson, who had been sleeping on the ground.

Danielson continued deteriorating, and he died in a local hospital in early November, Lera-Randle El said.

He didn't die lying out on the street," she said. "We wanted to give him some quality of life, someone to talk to, someone to call out for."

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285.

 

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