Weather suspected in at least three Indianapolis deaths

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The Marion County Coroner’s Office said heavy snow and brutally cold temperatures are suspected in at least three deaths being investigated.

Two of the deaths involved Indianapolis residents who collapsed while shoveling snow between Sunday night and Monday morning, according to Deputy Coroner Alfie Ballew.

A third death involved an elderly woman, who was found behind her Wayne Township home Monday morning. Investigators think the woman went out to shovel snow so her dogs could get in and out a back door.

“She was a good woman,” said neighbor Lark Hahn. “She said hi to everybody when we were out in the street. She was one of my mom’s good buddies and I’m really sorry that this happened.”

Hospital emergency rooms are gearing up for what could be a very busy night. Officials at Eskanazi Health said Monday started quiet, but it was starting to pick up. And it will likely continue to get busier as more people venture out into the cold.

“We’ve seen a couple people with frostbite,” said Eskanazi Health Emergency Room Doctor Eric Savory. “We saw a patient that had a propane explosion in his house, trying to heat his house and stay warm.”

Just down the hall from the Eskanazi emergency room was a 17-year-old man named Chris. He was resting in a recovery room with swollen, bloody hands. A bad case of frostbite had sent him to the emergency room after a few minutes of exposure to the cold.

“He went out to do some shoveling,” said Chris’ stepfather Noah Blackburn. “His gloves were wet and he decided to walk home without his gloves.”

Chris’ mother told Fox59 she didn’t know her son had gone outside. But when he came home screaming about his painful hands, she immediately called 911.

“Please stay in the house, because it’s very serious,” said Denise Blackburn. “They’re not joking around whatsoever.”

Emergency officials continue asking everyone to stay inside and not to venture out in the cold if possible. In subzero temperatures like the conditions gripping central Indiana, frostbite can strike exposed skin in a few minutes.