Homeless man dies after being struck by vehicle early Sunday
BEMIDJI — Andrew Willard Reed never saw his picture in Sunday’s edition of the Pioneer, and he apparently didn’t see the car that struck him on a Bemidji street that morning, killing the 54-year-old homeless man.
Reed, of Bemidji, was pronounced dead just before 5 a.m. Sunday in the 800 block of Paul Bunyan Drive. He died as a result of multiple head injuries, police said, after being struck by a vehicle driven by Floyd LaDuke.
Reed was one of several homeless men and women featured in a series of articles on homelessness in Bemidji.
No charges are pending, Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin said, and LaDuke passed a breathalyzer test and showed “no signs of impairment,” according to a press release issued Monday.
LaDuke’s age and place of residence were not released, and Mastin said Beltrami County Coroner Mark Robia had not performed an autopsy as of Monday afternoon.
Reed is one of two homeless men to die in a public place this year. The first occurred on June 21 with the drowning death of his friend, Adelbert James “Butch” Ryan, 63. Ryan’s body was found at Nymore Beach by two children riding their bicycles.
The Rev. Bob Kelly, pastor of Peoples Church, which gives shelter to the homeless, learned of the incident involving Reed on Sunday afternoon, but little information was available. His, and others’, worst fears were confirmed Monday when they learned of Reed’s death.
“Our creator God chose the time and place of our brother Andy’s death as a gift to our greater community,” Kelly said. “Andy’s last days and way of death are an exclamation point on the controversial Pioneer articles on chronic homelessness. Andy’s death is now united with Butch’s in a powerful exhortation for change on the streets of Bemidji.”
Sherry Iceman, a friend of Reed’s, mourned his loss at Peoples Church on Monday afternoon. She was in the basement of the church mopping the floor when Bemidji police arrived Sunday to ask if anyone there had recently been with Reed. They told Iceman there had been an accident.
“I just kind of wondered about him all day Sunday,” she said.
Reed was standing in the roadway, and the dark-colored clothing he was wearing prevented LaDuke from seeing him until it was too late, according to police. After striking Reed, LaDuke called police and attempted to revive Reed, but was unsuccessful.
“What would Andy be doing in the street?” Iceman said.
Reed’s death came three months and one day since his friend Ryan’s body turned up on the shore of Nymore Beach. The pair is among a group of two other homeless men and one homeless woman who have died in public places since 2006.
In June 2006, Vanessa Rose Stillday, 25, and Herman Joseph Strong, 35, were killed after a train struck them while they sat on railroad tracks. And in March 2010, Michael Jourdain was found dead near the inlet of Lake Bemidji.
Sarah Einerson, of Churches United, said Jourdain died after “years of battling alcoholism.”
Reed himself was a heavy drinker, often seen slumbering on downtown park benches. He was released from prison some time in 2010 or 2011 after serving an almost eight-year sentence for a first-degree manslaughter charge. The crime, in which Reed and Mel-vin Martin Smith, beat a third homeless man to death, occurred in September 2002 on a Minneapolis street corner.
From all appearances, Reed had been living on the streets since being released from prison.
Like Ryan, Reed’s death was mourned by his fellow homeless and Kelly on Monday. Iceman, who had been especially close with Reed, seemed particularly shaken by his death. She had just two words to describe her emotions.
“Hurt. Angry,” she said.