"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


A week ago, I wrote about Edgar Hollingsworth, who was found barely alive when National Guard personnel, acting in violation of orders, broke into his New Orleans home and rescued him, emaciated and dehydrated. Doctors estimated that, had he not been found, he would have lived no more than another 24 hours. My comment focused on the horrible possibility that there were others still alive in the hurricane zone, dying even as I was writing.

Today, I read the story of an elderly man found alive, keeping watch over his dead wife's corpse:
ATF agents Charles Smith and Sam Cohen, part of the massive hurricane relief effort here, went to a suburban store for supplies earlier in the day and Smith struck up a conversation with an old man named Leo Barrow.

"He said he was worried about his sister," Smith said. "He hadn't heard from her since the Sunday before the storm."

When they got to the house in the Mid-City section, they thought the couple might be safe. The door was marked with the bright orange "X" that indicates a patrol had already been through.

"I saw that 'X' and thought it would be OK," Smith said. "It had been checked."

A closer inspection showed this one was dated September 13, and that the house was not entered because it was locked. It also bore a zero and the letters A and D -- no one alive, no one dead....

Smith and Cohen knocked on the front door -- no response.

They noticed flies in a window. "When we saw those we had a pretty bad feeing," Smith said.

They went to the back of the house and John Lyons, 72, finally heard them and opened the door. His wife, also 72, lay dead in the bedroom.

"I'm surprised he didn't make it out of the house earlier, let somebody know he was there," said Emergency Medical Technician Christopher Keller, who was on the scene. "He was probably in a state of grieving, and maybe confused."

Keller estimated that Leola Lyons had been dead for five days.

John and Leola Lyons were discovered yesterday, September 20. If Leola had been dead for five days, that means she died on or about September 15 - two days after her home was checked but not entered, and one day after I wrote about Edgar Hollingsworth.

Sometimes it sucks to be right.




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