“He was homeless. Remember him” – reads the second makeshift gravestone in less than two weeks to be erected in Bristol City Centre in tribute to a person who died while sleeping rough.
This time, the heartbreaking message is for Adam Zaiac who died on February 5, 2018 outside Debenhams store in St James Barton.
He was just 41-years-old.
It says: “He died in this doorway, as shoppers walked by.”
Mr Zajac was found unconscious under his sleeping bag in the shop doorway. It was reported at the time that he may have suffered serious injuries, but a post-mortem later found he had died of acute alcohol toxicity having drank a huge amount of alcohol in a short period of time.
Emergency services were called to the scene at around 4.15pm by concerned members of the public.
When they arrived paramedics held up a red blanket while their colleagues tried to revive him.
Mr Zajac died shortly after and, despite the best efforts of paramedics at the scene and an off-duty nurse who tried to save Mr Zajac’s life before the ambulance arrived, he was pronounced dead at the scene around 5pm.
Mr Zajac was a well-known and well-liked rough sleeper in Bristol and had been seen walking around the Broadmead area earlier that afternon. Friends of his had gathered around him to try and wake him up that day on the request of officers who attended.
At that time, he was named as the sixth known rough sleeper to have died in Bristol in the last year. Between 2013 and 2017 at least 50 homeless people in Bristol died, however Mr Zajac’s death and any others known to have died will have increased that number.
In 2017 alone, 17 homeless people died in Bristol, accounting for approximately a third of homeless deaths across the entire of the South West.
The Bristol Post is working with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism to look at the number of homeless people who die.
If you know the date and place of death, a first or last name, that would be most helpful. We will keep sources and reports confidential. To find out more about the project, click here.
Bristol also had the third highest number of deaths in England and Wales, alongside Lambeth and Liverpool, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
In August 2018, Bristol Live reported the names of 50 homeless people who had died in the city with little or no acknowledgement – including Deborah Morris who was paid tribute to by the first makeshift gravestone erected in Castle Park on May 15.
The names were of those who had died on the streets, but also homeless people who were using emergency accommodation such as shelters or direct access hostels.
The headstones ask anyone who knows of somebody who has died homeless to contact Bristol Live journalist Michael Yong. However, he has now left the paper.
If you would like to contact us to inform Bristol Live of a death or issue surrounding homelessness and rough sleeping please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.