Obese Man's Death Shocks "All-American Town"
Bellaire, Ohio, a small town on the shores of the Ohio River, has a nickname. “The All-American Town.”
It's a town where people know each other well, because many of them have lived there all their lives. It's a town with small neighborhoods, a public and a private high school, and neighbors who are proud of their town. This week, people are thinking differently about the town.
It's the town where a morbidly obese man was found, sitting in his own waste, in a chair in a residential neighborhood's house. He had been sitting there two years.
His two roommates, who had been bringing Richard Hughes, 43, food as he sat in that chair, finally called authorities on Sunday after he was unresponsive. Authorities arrived and took him out of the house – cutting their way through a wall to do so. Hughes was rushed to an area hospital, where he died on Wednesday.
Police and emergency response officials said Hughes was sitting in feces and urine, and maggots were observed. His skin was fused to the chair. His roommates – one of whom was reportedly his girlfriend – said they brought him food because he never got out of that chair. His landlady reported not thinking anything was wrong, because Hughes was covered in a blanket if she came by.
The news is shocking, to say the least. One officer told the local television station that it was the worst thing he'd ever seen. Another said he had to throw out his uniform after helping get Hughes out of the chair.
The death has left a small, closely-knit “All-American” town in shock — and thrust it into the national spotlight. How could this have happened to a man who, until he began sitting in that chair, was reportedly well-known around the community? So far, the roommates, whose names haven't been officially released, haven't been charged with anything in connection with Hughes' death. They and their landlady have been told to clean out that house, a city code official said, because of the unsanitary conditions there.Continued on the next page