Bellaire, OH (WTRF) - In the wake of a story concerning a morbidly obese Bellaire, Ohio man who spent two years in a chair, residents are wondering, "How could this happen?"
The 43-year-old man is clinging to life in a Wheeling, West Virginia hospital. His skin had fused to his chair, with bedsores, maggots, and excrement everywhere. D.K. Wright looked into the underlying issues of how this could have happened.
A Belmont County legal authority says it appears that it is not a legal issue. The man, from all official accounts, was not being held against his will, was not a captive, not forced to live confined to his chair, with no access to proper hygiene techniques.
WTRF was told by several sources that the man insisted on living his life in his chair and insisted that his girlfriend bring him food and soft drinks.
Several people have suggested it's a case for adult protective services. However, their jurisdiction is reportedly limited to the elderly. Clients must be in their 60s or older. A 43-year-old does not qualify.
Is it a case for Children's Services? So often, cases involving filthy houses fall under their jurisdiction. But in this case, officials say, no children were involved.
And there's the Health Department. The age-old threats issued by parents: "You clean that room, or I'll call the Health Department" is apparently not grounded in fact.
They do have an environmental health section, but it deals more with things like lead paint on walls that could affect children.
And finally there's the landlord. She says she's been attacked online and on the airwaves, and she's tired of it.
She says, "You rent to adults, and you expect them to know how to live. He was always sitting underneath a blanket. I had no idea the extent of it."
She says there are now seven people cleaning that house. She says it may be too late for the man who chose to live his life in a chair.