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Welfare check prevents elderly man from freezing to death

(NEWS10 ABC)
(NEWS10 ABC)
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Updated: 2/25 9:28 pm

SUMMIT, N.Y. – A neighbor called police requesting a welfare check for his neighbor, and the man was saved from the cold.

Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond said the 76-year-old man spoke with a neighbor’s wife on the phone, but she could not understand what he was saying.

“The neighbor here did exactly what he should have,” Desmond said. “He knew something just wasn’t right, and he called the authorities.”

The sheriff’s office responded to the man’s home for a welfare check, but they could not access the home. Snow was blocking the entrance, and a car was completely snowed in.

“There is so much snow around the building that you couldn’t open the doors,” Desmond said.

Desmond said the house did not have heat, and the pipes were frozen. Neighbors noticed smoke was not coming from the chimney.

Desmond described the neighbor who called police a ‘hero.’

“Maybe not in the sense that we think of heroes,” he explained, “well to this gentleman that was in this house, the neighbor is a hero.”

When rescue crews got inside the house, they found the man suffering from hypothermia, dehydration and frostbite.

“We did get inside and brought the man out,” Desmond said. “He was transported to Cobleskill Hospital.”

The man also had a dog and three goats on the property. The animals were taken in by a local shelter.

Kerrie Collin is the Schoharie Valley Animal Shelter manager.

“Every animal needs proper shelter with insulation, food, water,” she said. “Main thing out here in these types of weather is their water freezing, so having a heated water system is very important.”

Desmond agreed.

“It’s cold everywhere,” he said. “But as you know up here on this mountain, it’s really tough with a lot of snow and a lot of wind and a lot of cold air.”

The man is still in the hospital and is listed in serious condition. 

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