Ottawa (CTV): A man who police describe as “a recluse” has been found alive after spending the winter trapped inside his house by snow and living off canned food.
Officers were called Thursday night by a concerned neighbor who returned from Florida and noticed thick snow and ice outside the house.
“As good neighbours, we wanted to make sure that he was okay,” the neighbour told CTV Ottawa.
Police arrived and found a winter’s worth of snow piled high in the driveway, with no tracks or signs of life. They spent the next 90 minutes working to clear a path to the front door, with neighbours pitching in with shovels and snow blowers.
The ice was so thick that a tractor from the city was called in to help.
When three officers finally reached the house, they didn’t see any signs of life, according to Ottawa Police Staff Sergeant John Gibbons.
“Unfortunately the officers thought they were going in to find someone who was deceased,” Gibbons said.
With permission from a sergeant, the officers entered the home and braced for the worst.
“Lo and behold, there was a gentleman — an older gentleman — on his couch,” Gibbons said.
“He had decided he was going to ride out the winter. He couldn’t get out, his snow blower had broken, and he was going to stay there all winter until the spring thaw let him get out of the house.”
The man told police he’d survived by rationing whatever canned food he had left. Even after police reached the isolated man, neighbours say he didn’t leave the house.
“My understanding is that he’s a recluse — didn’t want to ask for help, which is difficult for some people to do,” Gibbons said. “But I know after everything was said and done he was very happy with the officers, what they did for him.”
Neighbours said the man, believed to be in his 50s or 60s, usually only leaves his house at night. Some neighbours told CTV Ottawa that they only saw him once or twice a year.
“We left a note on his windshield, if he does come out that we’re here if he needs any help. And from what we understand, he doesn’t even have a telephone,” a neighbour said.
Police say they’ll check on the man over the following weeks. The plan, Gibbons says, is for officers to “bring him some food that’s not in a can.”