Photo by Rex Hohlbein, "Homeless in Seattle" Facebook page
Byron Barnes

Byron Barnes, 47, found dead in Ballard parking lot

Byron Barnes, 47, was found dead in a Ballard parking lot at 1764 NW 56th St on Jan. 20, according to WHEEL and Quest's Bridge Care Center. He was homeless and is survived by one son, who is currently in jail.

The official cause of death is still pending, though people believe it may have been hypothermia. Alcohol was also involved.

Barnes is the person we interviewed when we reported on his close friend, Don Farquharson, passing away at Ballard Commons Park back in November. At the time, Barnes had nothing but good things to say about his friend. Like Farquharson, Barnes was an Alaskan native.

A friend of Barnes said that Barnes was at his place drinking the night before. The friend said he hadn't realized Barnes passed away until he woke up in the morning.

Jill Vance of Bridge Care Center said she had gotten to know Barnes while providing services for him. In an email that she wrote to her volunteers, she said that she knew Barnes struggled with alcoholism. Barnes said that he knew it was a problem and so did his friends and family. In the end, he was unable to overcome it.

However, Vance said she didn't want to focus on his faults and said that Barnes was a loving father and a caring person who took time to ask her about her day.

Still, Barnes death did lead Vance to ponder how she and others could help people in similar situations to his. In an email to her volunteers, she wrote:

"This death has left me wondering, 'How can we do more?' 'What other services can be offered to help people out of the hopelessness of alcoholism, before it's too late?' 'How does a community rise up to help those in need?' As I presented these questions to (a friend), one of his answers was 'Talk to them.' He stated that sometimes homeless people just need someone to talk to that's not in the same circumstance as themselves."

WHEEL's Women in Black will be holding a silent vigil for Barnes and another person, Kathryn Ann Blair, 60, who was found dead during the One Night Count.

The vigil will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 6, from noon to 1 p.m. outside the Seattle Justice Center at 5th Ave and Cherry St.

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