ROCKWOOD (WATE) - Below freezing temperatures sweeping through our region the last few days could be what caused the death of an elderly man according to officials in Rockwood.
The Rockwood Police Department told 6 News Ray Knight, a veteran in his mid-80s, was found frozen to death during a welfare check this week.
Rockwood Police Chief Danny Wright said Adult Protective Services checked on Knight several times, one less than a week ago, but he always said no to help. Legally, there is only so much authorities can do.
A door is boarded up at Knight's home on Elm Avenue because police had to break it down Tuesday while checking on him. Once officers were inside they made a grisly discovery.
"Basically he fell through the floor in his house and froze to death," said Chief Wright.
Neighbors told 6 News they could hardly believe their friend has died.
"It's a shame. I'm going to miss him," said Jay Lewis.
Welfare checks were conducted on Sunday and Monday to see how Knight, who is without family, was faring in these frigid temperatures.
"He said he had heat. We documented the fact that he had heat Sunday night. On Monday, he said that he had heat and food and clothing, and he didn't need any help," added Chief Wright.
Chief Wright says the community has been worried and trying to get Knight assistance for some time, but there was little anyone could do.
"We can't force help on somebody. There's a legal definition on what you have to do in order to get someone that help, and sometimes our hands are tied. We can't force the help and he refused it," added Chief Wright.
Looking at the makeshift repairs, it's no surprise hearing Knight's friends were working to move him to a home next door.
"Well, I was trying to get this house going for him because I knew how bad of shape his house was," said Lewis.
Shocked and saddened to hear Knight was living the way he was, neighbors said they wish they could have done more before it was too late.
"It's very sad. Someone should have went in there and got him out of there," said Jeremy Medzie.
Knight's body has been sent to the coroner's office in Roane County, but Rockwood police say there are no signs of trauma. Again, they attribute cold weather as the cause of death.
If you're worried about a loved one, friend or neighbor during this cold snap, Rockwood police say you can call Central Dispatch at (865)354-8045 to get an officer to do a welfare check.
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