CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — A 72-year-old woman was found dead outside an assisted living facility in Cleveland Heights Monday; city officials say it appears the woman succumbed to the inclement weather and could not get back into the building.
At about 8:20 a.m. Monday morning, a Cleveland Heights Fire Department squad was driving near Forest Hills Place on Mayfield Road and saw what they believed to be a body on the ground at the corner of the building.
They discovered the deceased female, identified as Frances Washington, who was a resident of the care facility, city officials said. Her cause of death is unknown, but city officials said it appears that she succumbed to the cold weather and was unable to get back into the care facility. It is unknown how long she had been outside.
The investigation is ongoing, city officials said.
News 5 Investigators reached out to the administrator at Forest Hills Place but have not heard back.
When we called yesterday, the person on the phone told us the manager had no comment.
This death comes just hours before a 47-year-old man was found dead outside his Parma home.
"It was quite a shock for us to hear about that,” Michael Becerra said.
Becerra’s daughter lives close by.
He says they knew the man for ten years describing him as friendly and someone who watched the neighborhood from his porch.
"He was there by himself so unfortunately he didn't have anybody to watch after him. The timing was horrible,” Becerra said.
Both cases are awaiting autopsies for exact cause of death.
It’s not known how long either had been outside and in the Parma case, the city says whether the weather played a role.
"The really young and the really elderly patients have a really low ability to adapt to that, it doesn't take very long at all,” Dr. Andrew Yocum said.
Yocum is an emergency medicine doctor at Cleveland Clinic Akron General.
He says we are all susceptible but underlying medical issues and how prepared you are can all play factors in your survival.
And it doesn’t have to be bitter cold.
"You can have hypothermia when it's 50 or 60 degrees outside if you're in those conditions long enough and if you don't have the appropriate attire on,” Yocum said.
He says they’ve recently seen frostbite injuries and hypothermic patients. In subzero temperatures like during the blizzard, Dr. Yocum says both can set in within minutes and be irreversible within an hour.
"Even a young healthy person who goes outside maybe thinks they'll be out 15 to 20 minutes shovel the driveway and you fall down if you don't have any way to get ahold of anyone or god forbid you hit your head and pass out it would really only take an hour,” Yocum said.
He says you begin to shiver and then have trouble moving your hands and muscles.
Yocum says if it gets worse, people will have an altered mental state.
"Sometimes that gets misdiagnosed. People think they're intoxicated, or head injured unrelated, it's just that they're cold and their brain isn't functioning well. It can result in cardiovascular collapse and death,” Yocum said.
Yocum says in mild cases, you need to get warmed up quickly. Remove all wet clothing and get inside a heated room.
In extreme cases, warm IV fluids are used to get body temperatures back up.
Yocum also recommends keeping waterproof gloves handy, using multiple layers and keeping blankets, gloves and hats in your car in case you get stuck in the cold.
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