Orange County homeless deaths hit all-time high

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The deaths are so common they’re routine.

Sean, 47, drank himself to death on a bus stop bench in Anaheim.

Bruce, 63, collapsed and died on a freeway off ramp from heart disease and an untreated seizure disorder.

Zachary, 28, overdosed on heroin in a Santa Ana alley.

And Nicholas, 29, hanged himself with a shoe string on a dirt embankment in Fullerton.

Last year, more than 200 homeless men, women and children lost their lives to drugs, alcohol, mental illness, violence and, in many cases, years of neglect and hard living on the streets, according to reports from the Orange County Coroner’s Office reviewed by the Register.

It was the deadliest year on record for homeless people in Orange County.

It was also part of a grisly trend. The death totals for homeless people in the county have jumped in each of the past six years, doubling over the last half decade.

In all, 1,305 homeless people have died in Orange County over the past 12 years, about half coming since 2013.

When viewed en masse, experts say, the numbers tell the story of how increased street homelessness, a scourge of opiate addiction and failures in the public health system have combined to turn an already difficult existence into something more lethal. Many add that at least some homeless deaths locally could have been prevented with better resources.

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