Homeless Couple Dies of Apparent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Tragedy Brings Death Toll of Santa Barbara Homeless in 2009 to 11

Two homeless people were found dead in downtown Santa Barbara on Tuesday. Police confirmed that the bodies of a 55-year-old male and a woman believed to be in her thirties were found in an old school bus parked near the railroad tracks by Anacapa Street and Helena Avenue. There was no sign of violence, and the suspicion is that the two -known to other homeless people only as “Easy” and Anita - died from carbon monoxide poisoning from the gas-powered generator used to heat the bus. (Police have declined to identify the deceased pending notification of next of kin.) “We won’t need any 10-year plan [to end chronic homelessness],” said Paul Ambrose, a van dweller who knew the couple and who put their deaths in the context of the nine other street people who have died this year alone. “They’ll all be dead.”

Ambrose accused the police of waging a “war of terror on the poor.” Police have been under steady pressure to increase enforcement of laws targeting street people, panhandlers, and the publicly intoxicated by business interests on State and Milpas streets. Ken Williams, a county social service worker who serves the homeless, said the most recent deaths brings the total to 11. “And that’s just in eight weeks,” he exclaimed. “In 34 years I’ve never seen such a thing.”

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