Thomas: Life and death for the homeless |

Thomas: Life and death for the homeless

Vince Thomas
Guest Commentary
The Aspen Times

Whatever happened to the People in the SOS (homeless encampment) at the Intercept Lot near Aspen?

Hello, my name is Vince Thomas, and I have called Aspen my home for the past 10 years. I love Aspen (the place and the people). It’s all worth fighting for!

Several of my friends have died, largely locals of Aspen, and the last three effectively froze to death over the years in one of the wealthiest places in the United States. With numerous government buildings and law enforcement on the payroll with very little to do in such a low crime area, people have frozen to death, and people are still in danger. One can still die from hypothermia even on a summer night.

Possibly before the encampment, Tim tripped and fell just behind the 10 Commandants Monument in Aspen in Conner Memorial Park. He was transported to a hospital and later died due to complications from hypothermia (lowering of core temperature and body starts shutting down). If there is a Step One to freezing to death, it is hypothermia.

In the SOS Encampment at Brush Creek, I and two others picked Wayne up out of the snow and placed him into his camper. They grabbed his arms and I grabbed his legs. We got him into his bed, covered him up, and got him warm. He was such a great person and had just celebrated his birthday.

The next morning, I saw his leg sticking out of his open camper door. I lifted his foot to wake him, and he was solid from the foot to the waist. I poked him with my finger, and I believe that he expelled his last breath.

I didn’t have a working phone nor did anyone nearby, so I asked David, who was camped in a tent beside Wayne’s camper, to check his pulse while I find a phone to call 911. I found a person with a working phone and called 911. David told me that there was no pulse, and that “I just touched a dead person.”

Sometime later, David — a great, caring person who never hurt a fly and would give you the shirt off his back — was found dead downvalley, just outside his tent.

Where the majority of the people in the encampment have gone is largely parking lots and in the forest. One of the guys with an RV housing himself (but also anyone at risk of freezing to death) had his RV towed away to make way for construction at the Brush Creek parking lot. He lost his home and a place for others to keep alive in the extreme elements.

People are being told to “Move it or lose it!” Making people move often unsafe, and often unlicensed and uninsured vehicles onto the road endangers the public. Moreover, this does not solve the problem but is the balloon effect where we squeeze it here and it inflates there, just moving people around to other places.

Thank you for lending me your ears.

Vince Thomas lives in and around Aspen.