Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 9:21 pm | Fair 66º


Local News

Local Homeless Man Dies of Apparent Hypothermia

Robert Bunch becomes the 31st homeless person to die in Santa Barbara this year

A 56-year-old man died Sunday after being found with a low core body temperature, marking the 31st homeless death in Santa Barbara this year.

Robert Lester Bunch was found at the 4000 block of State Street when police were called to check his welfare, Lt. Paul McCaffrey told Noozhawk on Wednesday.

When officers arrived, Bunch had a very low body temperature and was transported to Cottage Hospital, where he later died. Though an official cause of death has not been released, McCaffrey said Bunch also had a high blood alcohol level when he was found. He said Bunch had numerous alcohol-related violations on his record, and frequented the Five Points Area on Upper State Street.

Social worker Ken Williams said Bunch’s death comes a year after “Freedom,” a homeless Vietnam War veteran, also died from hypothermia.

Rainy and cold weather was an issue last winter in the homeless community, and 300 to 400 people still would have nowhere to go even if all of the county’s shelter beds were utilized, according to John Buttny, then-executive director of Bringing Our Community Home, who spoke to the county Board of Supervisors on the issue at a meeting in February.

The board designated $51,781 to Bringing Our Community Home, a nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness in Santa Barbara County, to help assist volunteer efforts to operate the warming shelters.

The shelters will be activated under three combined conditions — two consecutive days of rain, temperatures below 40 degrees and a forecast of cold predicted below 35 degrees.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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