Homeless man devastated by camp tear-down in Wheeling


A day after another homeless encampment was torn down in the city of Wheeling, one man is speaking out after he says all his belongings were thrown away.

Frank Gooch’s parents have both died and the memories they left are now in the garbage.

"I went down there and it was gone. They said the city had taken it and i went down there, i don't know his name, but he's just kinda like chalk it up," Gooch said.

Clothing, birth certificate, I.D, pictures of his parents who passed away.

Everything Frank Gooch owned is now gone, and the sentimental items, he can never get back.

"Pictures of my mom and dad, that's what I’m really worried about the most, you can't get that back, my mom and dad are gone, it's not like I can go take a picture. "

Gooch was told his items were taken to a landfill.

"They said my stuff was disposed of, my stuff wasn't junk buddy, but I mean what are you going to do? What can you do?"Gooch said.

Wheeling-Ohio County Health Officer Dr. William Mercer says he believes the dismantling of two homeless camps in the past week was all a misunderstanding.

He says the areas were vandalized before W.V. state highway workers showed up to clean.

"I think what it comes down to is the city and state aren't trying to remove homeless camps, but they like to see things clean and we have a meeting Monday with Gus from WVDOH and we educate workers.. If there's a question about a homeless camp.. Is this waste or things that are a benefit," Dr. Mercer said.

City and state officials have both emphasized that they're not trying to run the less fortunate out of town.

But Gooch is now left with nothing and needs help.

"I mean let me take your stuff and see how you would like it, when that's all you got. You don't have anything else, that's all you got and you're going to take it and throw somebody's stuff away, it's just not right," Gooch said.

Now Mercer is meeting with the W.V. Division of Highways on Monday to discuss this more.

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