01.30.09 9 years ago 35 Comments

The photo here is from the elevator shaft of an abandoned warehouse in Detroit.  And yes, that’s an actual dead man encased in 2-3 feet of ice.  It was discovered when “urban explorers” were playing ice hockey in the basement.  Get ready for the most macabre and depressing story of urban decay you’ll read this week.

[The man who found the body] is an urban explorer who gets thrills rummaging through and photographing the ruins of Detroit. It turns out that this explorer last week was playing hockey with a group of other explorers on the frozen waters that had collected in the basement of the building. None of the men called the police, the explorer said. They, in fact, continued their hockey game.

Well, it’s not like stopping the hockey game is gonna bring him back to life now, is it?  What’s the rush?  I don’t want to sound callous, but it’s not like he’s at the top of the triage list.

A colony of homeless men live in the warehouse. Wednesday morning a few fires were burning inside oil drums. Scott Ruben, 38, huddled under filthy blankets not 20 paces from the elevator shaft.

“Yeah, I seen him,” Ruben said. The snow outside howled. The heat from the can warped the landscape of rotting buildings and razor wire.

Did he know who the dead person was?

“I don’t recognize him from his shoes.”

Well played.  For a hobo.

[Ruben’s] shack mate, Kenneth Williams, 47, returned at that point with an armload of wood.

“Yeah, he’s been down there since last month at least.”

He was asked if he called the police.

“No, I thought it was a dummy myself,” he said unconvincingly. Besides, Williams said, there were more pressing issues like keeping warm and finding something to eat.

“You got a couple bucks?” he asked.

After snapping photos and carefully interviewing all the vagrants and demanding to know why they didn’t call the police right away, the reporter finally gets the authorities involved.

“Where’s this building?” [asked the 911 operator.]

It was explained to him, as was the elevator shaft and the tomb of ice.

“Bring a jack-hammer,” this reporter suggested.

“That’s what we do,” he said.

All right.  Good times.  Detroit Board of Tourism, go ahead and take the day off.

[Kissing Suzy Kolber]

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