Warming Center Responds to Death - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Warming Center Responds to Death

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The Erie County Coroner's office has not ruled yet on what caused the death of a man found lying on a bus stop bench Sunday morning.   Police on routine patrol spotted the man, 44 year old Marvin Butler, lying on the bench in the 900 block of State Street about 9:30 AM Sunday. Although temperatures dipped into the teens early Sunday, Coroner Lyell Cook says that medical issues may have caused the death and not exposure to the elements.  He will wait for the results of toxicology tests before issuing a ruling.

Sadly, home and help were nearby for Butler.  Friends and family say he had an apartment in the Lodge on Sass, just blocks from where he was found.  And the warming center in the Mental Health Association of Northwest Pennsylvania, 11th and Peach Street, is also nearby.

Staff and clients there know him and say he wasn't there Saturday night.  "I did review the record and it seems that he was not here that night, sad to say...wish he was, if he had been maybe things would have gone differently for him," said CEO Bill Grove.

Kevin Womble has only been in Erie for 7 months.  He says Butler was the second person he met here.  "We instantly became friends," said Womble, "we played cards, watched movies, I spent a lot of time with him." As to why Butler spent his last hours alone outside on a bench, Womble said, "Nobody can really say why that situation happened, if he just needed to rest because of his cane, he took some time to walk and he lived a few blocks from where they found him."

Officials at the warming center say when the temperature is 25 degrees or lower they will not turn anyone away, even if they are under the influence of alcohol. They say the rules are pretty simple:  no drugs or alcohol inside, listen to the staff and keep the noise level down so that others are able to get their rest.  "We want people to be safe and alive," said Grove.

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