Meridian, Miss. Hypothermia has taken the life of a homeless woman who was sleeping under the Highway 39 bypass Tuesday night. Her full name is not yet being released, but The People's Charity Project says Ms. Jessie was one of its favorite clients.
"She's died of hypothermia for lack of shelter," Christie Rainer from the project says. "That breaks my heart. It literally breaks my heart. We have been fighting for shelter."
The coroner says he estimates her time of death to be about 10 p.m. Tuesday when the temperature was only 51 degrees. He says most people don't realize that you can die of hypothermia before temperatures hit freezing.
"Last night was kind of a surprise. You know, it was in the 60s yesterday. It was just too cold, didn't realize," Coroner Clayton Cobler says. "She laid on the ground. The ground just sucked the heat out of her body."
The People's Charity Project tries to help the homeless help themselves by furthering education and employment opportunities.
The center said Ms. Jessie had an income and a dog just like most people, but that income just wasn't enough to provide the housing that she needs. Her dog, Scrappy, was lying on top of her when she was found.
Rainer says Ms. Jessie is one of about 400 homeless from this area in the project's database, but she estimates there could be as many as one thousand here without a home and only 50 beds to go around. Now, officials say they need your help to prevent future deaths.
"What we're needing is community support, such as volunteers, donations, funding is the biggest issue that we have," Robert Gibson from The People's Charity Project says. "But people who actually care who don't mind getting their hands dirty."
A small silver lining from this story is that Scrappy already has a new home, along with a full grooming package and food provided entirely by Petco.