Current Events

Elderly Vietnam vet with throat cancer freezes to death after his gas is shut off

The state of Michigan has ordered a report from Consumers Energy, after a 69 year-old Vietnam veteran froze to death after the company shut off his heat during one of the coldest months of the year.

The state of Michigan has ordered a report from Consumers Energy, after a 69 year-old Vietnam veteran froze to death after the company shut off his heat during one of the coldest months of the year.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the company shut off Jack Shelley’s gas on January 19 and he was later found dead of hypothermia on February 1.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Utility companies are prohibited from shutting off heat in homes that have residents aged 65 and older from Nov. 1 to March 31, according to Michigan Public Service Commission spokeswoman Judy Palnau. Consumers Energy does have a shutoff protection program for people 65 and older.

“That doesn’t mean they don’t have to pay; that just means they can’t be shut off,” Palnau said. “But other folks could find themselves in shutoff situations, but before they have a problem, they should contact their utility company. There are several programs that they can get on that can protect against shutoffs.”


John Skelley in an undated family photo.

But the company said it was not aware that Skelley was living in the home. According to the company’s records, the service was in the name of Joseph Mixen, who requested natural gas service on Nov. 18, 2014. Mixen had previously lived at the home between March 2012 and May 2013 and had an outstanding balance of $760.28.

“It’s very unfortunate,” spokeswoman for Consumers Energy Deborah Dodd said. “We had no idea that anyone else was living with him. … We need our customers to let us know if they’re having problems, the sooner the better. We can’t help you if we don’t know you need help.”

A metro Detroit-based organization that helps veterans, Hangin’ With the Heroes, has raised money to cover Skelley’s funeral and will give him a full military burial. He is survived by two children.



  1. Avatar

    Faylene Marie Gostanian-Whalin

    February 19, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    My electric company is constantly contacting me with programs based on my age and income. Possibly the man that requested the service didn’t respond to what was sent to him. This is so sad.

  2. Avatar

    joe schkeryantz

    February 19, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    why did they have to raise money for his full military burial? shouldn’t he get one for free serving his country?

  3. Avatar

    Suzy Samford Weber

    February 20, 2015 at 5:03 am

    I would be willing to bet that if he had attempted to make arrangements, he would have been told that they could not help him because the account was not in his name.

  4. Avatar


    February 20, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Did you miss the part about the gas not being in the elderly man’s name?

  5. Avatar

    Angie Sparks

    February 21, 2015 at 12:00 am

    I don’t care whose name it is in or if he is over 65 NOBODY should have their heat off during the winter time.

  6. Avatar


    February 21, 2015 at 3:52 am

    What is sad is anyone who lived in that home would have died from the cold, I hate to think of what he must have suffered. Why would you shut off a utility on the coldest day of the year, especially in a state that gets as cold as Michigan? To describe this mans death as “unfortunate”, is a direct result of business at hand, no matter the consequences.

  7. Avatar


    February 21, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Thus is heart breaking …..lack of combination…and where where his children? And the company sh pi d always do a home visit who knows what happened? Maybe he was afraid to call other will issues… rhinos sever negligence on several parties. God rest you . Rip

  8. Avatar


    February 21, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Wow my Lol auto correct is a funny thing… I give up

  9. Avatar


    February 21, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    The company should be charged with involuntary manslaughter and forced to pay ALL funeral expenses!!! Detroit SUCKS anyway!!!

  10. Avatar

    Carolyn Allan Smart

    February 23, 2015 at 3:53 am

    Maybe this is the reason that we – in Australia – need senator Jaquie Lambie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

To Top