STATE ROAD — While the cold temperatures were not the primary cause of death for a homeless man found in State Road over the weekend, the top medical official in the county said it was possibly a contributing factor. The death has sparked a local movement to provide warmer places of refuge for homeless in the region.
Andrew William Jackson Jr., 59, known as Andy to those in the area, was discovered Saturday on the ground just outside a pick-up-style camper a Persimmon Lane property owner was allowing him to stay in for shelter from the cold.
John Shelton, director of Surry County Emergency Services, said, “He died a natural death, but the cold temperature could have contributed to it.” He estimated Jackson had been dead since Jan. 7.
The last address Jackson had an ID for was Connecticut, so Shelton said they aren’t sure what his actual last real address was. His family has been contacted.
“He roamed the community,” Shelton said of Jackson.
With the record cold temperatures the area has experienced during the last month or two, Shelton said, “We’re fortunate we haven’t found more than we have who have suffered death due to the cold.”
During the 2016-17 cold season, Shelton said Surry County lost one person due to frigid temperatures. Jackson is the only person who has died this cold season, he said.
“It is a concern,” he said of the cold temperatures, which have returned for part of this week. “I’ve talked with the police departments, sheriff’s office, and social services, and we’ve identified people we need to do welfare checks on. A lot of people stay under bridges and other places, and evidently they’ve found somewhere to go, because we’ve seen them out and about but not found them staying in their usual places.”
The death of Jackson has created a movement by the organizers of the Helping Hands Your Neighbors’ Pantry program.
Organizers are asking for donations of tents, sleeping bags, hats, blankets and gloves, as well as financial donations which can be made to Helping Hands at the Surrey Bank & Trust Elkin branch. Donations are requested by Jan. 30 to be delivered to the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce, 116 E. Market St., Elkin.
Those who have donations to be picked up, or are not in the immediate Elkin area and want to make donations, can contact Misty Matthews at 336-749-4791. Anyone who knows of homeless people and where to find them are asked to call Eric Allman before Jan. 30 at 336-258-0562.
Groups will be delivering the donated items to the homeless in Surry and Yadkin counties on Jan. 31.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.