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Man pays tribute to Larry Bierl, who died of hypothermia last year

Posted at 5:55 PM, Jan 31, 2020

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — On this day a year ago, a man named Larry Bierl froze to death at an NFTA bus shelter in Williamsville.

But five years earlier, he became friends with Mark Marinaccio, invited him for a meal at the nearby Spot coffee.

"He would talk about what he did growing up, what sports he played, different places he lived," said Marinaccio.

They stayed friends over the years. Marinaccio said four months before Bierl's passing, he and his wife lost their home in a fire, putting them in similar shoes as Bierl.

And on the night he died, Marinaccio said he got stuck in a blizzard on the 190, on his way to Bierl.

"I actually tried to get to him because I knew where he'd be. But I couldn't get there," he said.

Marinaccio decided to launch a GoFundMe page to help others like Bierl, with the proceeds going to the Friends of Night People program.

He also wrote a song about Bierl, mainly comprised of things he said to Marinaccio over their many conversations.

Many others like him are going through the same thing this winter, and one advocate said it's important to show compassion and respect.

"Sometime these individuals, they just need that little bit of extra help to get through their situation," said Joseph Heary, Executive Director at Friends of Night People. "It's a smile, it's a cup of coffee, it's a hug. it's letting somebody know that there's people out there who do care about them."

"The thing that I thought was very important when I met Larry was number one to see him," said Marinaccio.