Editorial: We let a man freeze to death

January 12, 2014

The Lima News

Our community failed William Shaw.

The 75-year-old man was found frozen to death last week in his Bath Township home on North Cool Road.


This was not a home. Not a house. Not even a dwelling. It wasn't even a sound enough structure to be called a shack.

It was four walls. The roof had a hole in it. There was no running water for months and only a space heater for warmth.

Yet, that is where William Shaw tried to ride out temperatures that flirted with minus-20 degrees below zero.

It is easy for us to turn our heads away from such a tragedy.

It is easy for us to say this is just a sign of the times, that as tragic as this is, such things do happen.

But do we want to be a community that accepts such a death as the “the norm?” Do we want to be a community that does not care?

Don't be fooled into believing something like this can only happen in a rural area or a poor part of town. The truth is it can happen in Shawnee Township, Elida, Ottawa, Delphos or Wapakoneta. It can be happening next door to you.

William Shaw's death brings many legitimate questions today: How can a landowner be allowed to have such a structure on his or her property, especially in a township with some of the toughest zoning laws around; how could electricity be supplied to such a place; how could someone who regularly drives down North Cool Road — citizens, firefighters, law enforcement officers, delivery route drivers — not notice someone was living in such deplorable conditions in such weather.

William Shaw's death should be a wake-up call for all of us not only to check up on the people we love during inclement weather — or at any time, for that matter — but to keep an eye on those living around us.