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Neighbors remember man found frozen, urge others to seek safety

Posted at 5:37 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 18:37:53-05

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee neighborhood knows the reality of life-threatening winter conditions too well after a man was found frozen in a car.

Neighbors near 87th and West Capitol Drive were heartbroken to learn 51-year-old Chad Dirnbauer, who was living out of his car, was found dead and frozen in it on Saturday night.

"He was a nice guy. If he can help you he'll help you," said Nancy Crenshaw.

"He always helps out. He knows how to fix cars, and he always gives you a ride anywhere you need to go," said Samuel Tekle.

Nancy said Dirnbauer had recently shoveled her walkway. She said another neighbor broke the news to her.

"He knocked on my door crying and I'm like, 'what's wrong'? He said Chad is gone," Nancy said.

A report from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's office said a childhood friend who would check on Dirnbauer was the one who found him. A responding officer said the keys were in the car, but it was out of gas. Firefighters broke a window to get to him. Investigators reported at the time it was bitterly cold at 5 degrees with a wind chill.

"I'm really sad about it because he's a real good guy," said Tele.

"It hits all of us very hard when we work to try to prevent something like that from happening," said Eva Welch, executive co-director for Street Angels Milwaukee Outreach.

Street Angels Milwaukee Outreach is dedicated to helping people struggling with homelessness, often getting to know people personally. Welch said they have been out trying to get people indoors or at least prepared for the weather, but they were not familiar with Dirnbauer.

Welch, along with the West Allis Fire Department and Community Medical Services, was at 70th and Greenfield from 2-4 p.m. on Monday to offer resources to shelters, food pantries, and help for addiction to anyone passing by. They do the same outreach on Wednesdays at the same time at 76th and Orchard.

"The community we're trying to target doesn't always have internet access, doesn't always have phone access," said Welch. "Hopefully putting ourselves out here like this we can help somebody else who's in that same situation."

Dirnbauer's autopsy was inconclusive. His cause of death is pending toxicology.

Two weeks ago a 63-year-old man was reported missing before he was found frozen behind a business near Capitol Drive and Holton Street.

With the dangerous cold expected to last for days reach out for help. There are warming rooms and shelters available. 2-1-1 can be a resource. You can also reach out to Street Angels at (414) 369-3688 or on their website

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