Vancouver police are appealing to the public for help determining how a homeless man, known for selling flowers in Yaletown streets, died after being found collapsed in a downtown alley.

Thomas Sawyer, 55, was discovered by a passerby in a laneway near Richards and Nelson streets sometime after 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

He died in hospital a short time later with major internal lung injuries from what appeared to be an impact, Const. Lindsey Houghton said yesterday.

“We don’t know how he sustained those injuries,” Houghton said, adding there were no external injuries.

Houghton said police have been unable to find any next of kin, and they are taking the unusual step of releasing Sawyer’s name in the hopes that someone who knows what happened will come forward.

“Mr. Sawyer was known to walk around here during the day and interact with people. He was fairly well-known for giving out flowers, especially in the Yaletown and Granville Street area,” Houghton said.

“Officers found flowers around Mr. Sawyer’s body when he was found. It’s very sad. No one deserves to die in a lane like this.

“He brought smiles to people’s faces … (Police officers) built connections with (him) and this is upsetting to a lot of people.”

The results of an autopsy won’t be known for several days.

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