By Jim Newell
Bruce Gertz, Orion’s homeless wanderer, is safe and being evaluated after authorities went to check on him Jan. 3.
Community volunteers also set up a GoFundMe account, www.gofundme.com/6gf1v5s, to help keep Gertz – known locally as just Bruce – in a motel and off the streets throughout the winter, raising $4,085 as of Monday.
Deputies from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Orion Twp. Substation went to the corner of Clarkston and Lapeer (M-24) roads Thursday afternoon to check on Gertz, “who chooses to live on public property,” according to a report from the Orion Twp. Substation.
Deputies reported that Gertz’s “condition appeared to have declined and clothing, bedding and other items were found to be contaminated with urine, old food items and fecal matter where the man sleeps.”
Gertz, 64, has roamed the Orion area for the past 18 years, previously living behind the Kmart plaza or wherever he could make a bed for the night. Lately, he has camped out at the corner of Lapeer/Clarkston roads, piling on old blankets, sleeping bags and tarps for warmth.
Deputies coordinated an effort to have Gertz voluntarily evaluated at Common Ground and worked with community volunteers to get him off the roadside and out of the weather during winter months, the report stated.
After transporting Gertz and some of his belongings to Common Ground, a 24-hour crisis services agency that provides professional and compassionate services, for an evaluation, a shower and clean clothes, deputies took him to a local motel.
Authorities also reviewed an Adult Protective Services (APS) case originally initiated in August and forwarded the information to the agency “with the intent of establishing improved health and welfare conditions” for Gertz, who doesn’t appear “to be making appropriate decisions concerning his health,” according to the report.
Orion Township officials went back to Gertz’s Lapeer/Clarkston roads campsite to complete a hazardous material clean-up detail, removing yards of debris and “making the scene safe,” according to the report.
The case remains open for further investigation and state assistance on Gertz’s behalf.
Gertz also has his own Facebook page, Bruce of Orion, where supporters post updates on his status. On Jan. 3, a volunteer who looks after Gertz posted that he is safe and in a room.