A shocking scene greeted students walking past In and Out party store and Bella Napoli’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant last night, when a man was found dead on the sidewalk.
Ann Arbor Police Department officers said they believed the man is homeless but would not release his identity until his family is notified, which hadn’t happened as of 11 p.m. last night. Witnesses said the officers began arriving at the scene between 9:15 and 9:20 p.m.
“I left the UGLi at about 9:20. The ambulances and everything were still there and it looked like the police had just arrived because they were just starting to string up the caution tape,” said Engineering senior Paul Miska. “I saw the body covered by the sheet, his feet hanging out.”
The causes of death are unknown, but the death itself did not come as a surprise to many area residents.
“We haven’t been told who it was yet. Chances are we do know him because a lot of the (homeless) come in here a lot,” Ann Arbor resident and In and Out employee Jacob Howe said. “I see most of them a lot and they don’t treat themselves very well, and it’s getting that time. It’s cold out there. I feel sorry for his family and all his friends out there.”
Miska, who is originally from Ann Arbor, said he hopes the man’s death raises more awareness of and sympathy for the city’s homeless community, adding that he’s met many homeless residents over the years, both by walking down the sidewalks and by volunteering in soup kitchens.
“A lot of them are working and either have money for a place to live but no food or have money for food but no place to live. Most of them seem to be decent people, they are just trying to get on their feet,” Miska said.
Ann Arbor City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Marcia Higgins (R-Ward 4) said she is saddened by the death, but believes the city has plenty of resources for those willing to use them.
“It’s always very shocking to think that anyone is going to die in the street. I think it’s so sad because if he’s homeless, there is no way to contact family. And if he’s ill, I’m sad because we have a shelter that he could go to,” she said.
The city has three homeless shelters, one for men, one for women and another for families. The men’s shelter is located on Huron Street near First Street and holds 50 to 60 people, she said. Downtown churches also offer breakfast and dinner to the homeless, as well as shelter on a rotating basis.