Homeless man and Hope Center guest found dead by Rapid Creek, homeless speculate he froze to death

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 6:45 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - “The weather is changing and it’s snowing out bad now and it gets cold. It really gets cold,” says Rapid City homeless man, Adrian Black Wolf.

The death of the man was especially hard for the Hope Center’s Executive Director, Melanie Timm, who reminds the public, “They’re people.”

“You have to learn to survive,” says Gilbert Blue Bird, a Veteran and homeless for eight months, “If you don’t survive then you’re going to go down.”

“It’s hard outside,” says Timm. “It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s uncomfortable.”

“I experienced the winter,” adds Blue Bird, “and for me, being a veteran, it’s survival. You’ve got to survive, because if you don’t wake up in the next morning and you’re not covered up... you don’t have covers, you don’t have a tent, you don’t have a tarp... then you’re going to freeze. You’ve got to be prepared, because you can’t be out here on the street.”

If all else fails, Black Wolf says many people just “lay under a bridge or something. Most of us, you know, like I said, that’s what we do.”

“There’s just a lot of things that contribute to someone losing their life,” says Timm,”but, when you’re living outdoors. When your feet are your only transportation, there’s a higher risk of things going wrong.”

“You have to have shelter,” says Blue Bird, and Timm Agrees. “Shelter. Shelter comes to mind immediately. If shelter is a possibility,” Timm adds, “then we definitely try and steer people in that direction. Open up resources for them that maybe they didn’t know about.”

“With the rate of alcohol,” says Blue Bird, “meth and all the other drugs that are out here. You have to stay alert. You have to stay alert to what’s going on out here. So, you always have to have friends that will look after you and help you out.”

“We’ve lost more people so far in 2021 than we did all of 2020 or 2019,” says Timm, “and the community does what we can do, and granted there’s always room for more.”

No matter what, though, Blue Bird says, “You just have to keep on going.”

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