Paul Maker, an elderly Louisiana man, froze to death in his home on the night of January 17th. Paul Maker froze because his house had no working heat. Maker and his wife, both disabled and wheelchair-bound, had space heaters, but they feared using them overnight due to the possible fire hazard. Maker was 84 years old.
A neighbour had requested a welfare check on Wednesday morning. Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Bud Torres told The Advocate, “This is just a sad situation.” When deputies arrived at the house, the temperature inside was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The cause of death for the elderly Louisiana man was ruled as hypothermia by Deputy Coroner Joe Gannon.
Maker’s wife was still alive when authorities found her. She was rushed to the hospital. “This was a really old couple in an old house with poor heating,” Joe Gannon told The Advocate, “They would turn their oven on to heat the home and then turn it off at night.”
Maker’s wife told the authorities that she had heard Paul fall out of his wheelchair during the night. However, she was in bed and could not get up by herself. Wanda Curly, the couple’s daughter, tried to call the couple on Wednesday, but could not reach them. “I knew the weather was bad, and I knew they couldn’t do a lot for themselves,” she told The Advocate.
The couple’s children all live in New Orleans. Due to the poor weather, they were unable to travel the 100 miles to get to the Makers’ residence in New Roads. Though Paul Maker was 84 and disabled, the elderly Louisiana man and his wife valued their independence, which is why they refused to move to New Orleans.
Paul Maker and his wife moved to New Roads after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the state in 2005. After Paul’s death, however, Wanda Curly intends to have her mother move back to New Orleans to be closer to her and the rest of the couple’s children. “She doesn’t have a choice now. She can’t stay there by herself,” Curly told The Advocate.
The colder-than-average Louisiana winter has forced residents of the state to resort to using space heaters in addition to the heating in their homes. Unfortunately, the use of space heaters has caused several houses to burn down at night. This is likely why the Makers felt they should not be using them.
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