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Company Disconnected Service For 69-Year-Old Veteran Suffering From Cancer, He's Found Frozen To Death

The state of Michigan ordered utility Consumers Energy Thursday to explain a natural gas service shutoff in a home of a Detroit suburb where a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran froze to death in December.

Vet John Skelley was found dead February 1 in a home on West Pearl Street in Hazel Park. Local police report that Skelley died of hypothermia and related health problems. A Consumers Energy spokesperson notes that service was cut off at the residence on the afternoon of January 19th, and a tag with assistance details and information regarding reconnecting service was put on the door.

Michigan Public Service Commission regulations prohibit utilities from disconnecting gas heat in homes with residents age 65 and above from Nov. 1 to March 31. Moreover, Consumers Energy does have a shutoff protection program for the elderly in place.

"That doesn't mean they don't have to pay; that just means they can't be shut off," notes Judy Palnau of the MPSC. "But other folks could find themselves in shutoff situations, but before they have a problem, they should contact their utility company. There are several programs that they can get on that can protect against shutoffs."

In its statement, the utility pointed out it was not aware Skelley was living in the home. The gas service was in the name of Joseph Mixen, who first requested natural gas service on November of 2014. Mixen had resided at the home in the past and had an overdue balance of $760.28 at the time of the shutoff.

Source: Freep
Photo: Detroit Free Press

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