SURREY (NEWS 1130) — Eighty-two-year-old Manfred Skiello spends most of his nights parked outside of his home which was destroyed when an RV plowed into it nearly two months ago.
His neighbour Lucy Matich describes what he’s doing as “babysitting.” The crash left his home and all of his possessions completely exposed to the elements, leaving everything “wet and rotten.”
The house was so badly damaged it could collapse, so Skiello hasn’t been able to salvage anything.
“It may as well have been a Tsunami that just blew it away,” Matich tells NEWS 1130.
She says looters have descended on the property, with one group pulling up earlier this week and loading Skiello’s belongings into a trailer.
“This is brazen, this is in the middle of the afternoon. Can you imagine?” she says.
“We’re constantly calling the police, and actually chasing them, and yelling at them to get out.”
When Skiello isn’t visiting or staking out his property, he’s living in a place that Matich says neighbours and family are frantically working to get him out of.
“I assume he sleeps during the day. He’s living in a rooming house, for God’s sake,” she says.
“He’s got one room, and he shares a kitchen and a bathroom. That’s not suitable for him at 82, with health issues, and with COVID. We’re all working so hard trying to put something together. I would like to see him settled, even in a small basement suite with just privacy so that he can cook his scrambled eggs whenever he’s hungry.”
Finding a modest suite like the one Matich describes has proven challenging, and costly.
Matich describes Skiello’s current situation as “horrendous,” saying his health has deteriorated significantly since September.
“His health is at risk, it really is, especially with the loss of weight. And the worries and the shock and the lack of sleep, all of that is humiliating, you know?” she explains.
“He doesn’t show a lot of emotion, but I know he’s upset because he can hardly talk. He talks very little, and he needs to take care of his health. He’s lost a lot of weight and we’re concerned.”
Skiello lived in the home on his own for 30 years, and had paid off his mortgage.
“This is a guy that had a home, and was fine, and didn’t need anybody until one day he went to the doctor and came back and everything was gone,” Matich says.
But he didn’t have insurance.
Just got off the phone with a neighbour of Manfred Skiello, the 82yr old who lost his Surrey home in RV crash. Looters are going through the home, he has been issued warnings from city of Surrey AND he is now living in a rooming house where he must share a bathroom @NEWS1130
— Renee Bernard (@Renee1130) October 26, 2020
Recently, he told Matich that he received a notice from the City of Surrey telling him to clean up the property. A GoFundMe page set up for Skiello says the city considers the property unsafe and rat-infested.
“He has to do it himself and pay for it or the city will do it. The city’s giving him a certain amount of time, if he doesn’t do it on his own, the city will do it and put the fees on his taxes.”
The house needs to be completely demolished and the property cleared, which could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
The GoFundMe has raised more than $24,000, and the support has been overwhelming for Skiello.
“This man has never had help in his life, he’s always been totally independent. He’s always taken care of himself. It’s so hard for him. I can tell when I’m sitting across the table from him — it’s hard for him to accept all this,” Matich says.
The RV driver’s insurance is supposed to kick in and compensate Skiello, but as far as Matich knows that hasn’t happened.
A spokesperson for ICBC said in September that a settlement had been fast-tracked.
“ICBC has expedited this claim and has been in regular communication with the customer and his family. All outstanding information was received last week and we contacted the customer to discuss a settlement,” reads an email.
The corporation also said that the house was too unstable to be covered, or emptied.
“ICBC has been advised by a structural engineer that it’s not safe to put a tarp over the home or to remove the contents.”
On Oct. 26, ICBC told NEWS 1130 the following: “We’ve completed the portion of the claims work, getting us to a point where we can offer to settle the claim. We contacted Mr. Skiello’s family and were advised he had retained counsel. We immediately contacted his counsel, who subsequently asked for further information. We are responding today and including information on how we can provide financial assistance promptly as we continue to work to resolve this claim.