Transients found frozen near Jordan River; advocates urging homeless to take shelter

4 photos
Save Story

Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SOUTH SALT LAKE -- The bodies of a man and woman were discovered Thursday morning along the banks of the Jordan River near 2700 South. They were covered with a thin sheet of snow, likely victims of Wednesday night's storm.

"It's been very cold over the night, and right now it's even a whole lot colder than it appears to be. Snow, cold weather, high winds last night. That probably contributed to it," said Gary Keller, spokesman for the South Salt Lake Police Department.

The two were found by a man walking his dog. He told KSL 5 News he became worried when he saw the people weren't moving and had snow frozen on their faces.

Investigators say they were fully dressed with coats, but that was it. "It didn't appear they had any sleeping bags or tarps or anything. There were some bags of belongings with them too," Keller said.

Police have not yet identified them. They say that could take as long as a week to do so and notify next of kin.

Investigator say they're not sure if drugs or alcohol may have played a part in the deaths.

Deaths have advocates urging homeless to take shelter

Community advocate Pamela Atkinson works closely with Salt Lake Valley shelters and says the area where the bodies were found is a popular spot for the homeless to camp out.

"There are some places they can camp out under the little bridges. You usually see three or four of them," she explained.

Atkinson is urging anyone else out there to get inside until the weather warms. "I know a lot of my homeless friends watch the news, and all I can say to them is: Please, please come into the shelter whilst this weather is so cold, particularly at nighttime," she said.

There is still room in the shelters. An overflow facility is scheduled to close down at the end of the month, but if this cold weather continues they'll keep it open.

Volunteers working with homeless who prefer the streets

There are homeless Utahns who choose to live on their own, outside a shelter. But there are also volunteers who choose to help such people.

Kevin McNamee works with Volunteers of America. His job: find Utah's homeless. "The goal is to meet the homeless clients and build a relationship with them on their turf," he said.

McNamee is not trying to get anyone to change their lifestyle, just trying to help them survive. He hands out socks, hygiene kits, food and water.

A homeless couple we talked to say volunteers visit them twice a week.

"If it wasn't for them, I don't know what me and my wife would do out here, it's a godsend," Donald said.

His wife, Crystal, told us, "They have helped us a lot."

Donald and Crystal came to Salt Lake for work, but he got laid off. They prefer not to stay at a shelter. Now they're working with Volunteers of America to find a permanent home. "They're helping us get into housing," Donald said.

So, home could soon mean four walls and a roof overhead.

Volunteers of America also pass out cards with their phone number on it. Someone is always on call so that if a client calls and needs anything like food, water, or blankets, they'll get it.

For more information, CLICK HERE.


Story compiled with contributions from Sarah Dallof, Amanda Butterfield and Marc Giauque.


Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast