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Iowa COLLEGE STUDENT DIES IN POLAR VORTEX

by | Jan 31, 2019 | Breaking News, Current Events, Education, Environment, Government, News, Weather | 0 comments

The University of Iowa student who died after being found outside on campus in subzero temperatures was “a momma’s boy with a tough exterior,” his dad said.

Gerald Belz, 18, was discovered unconscious Wednesday around 3 a.m. behind an academic hall — when the wind chill was about minus 51 degrees. The first-year pre-med student was rushed to a hospital, where he died.

“I want people to remember him as a compassionate person,” his dad, Michael Belz, told KCRG. “He had many more friends than I was aware of.”

Police haven’t released a cause of death, but believed the frigid temperatures played a role, FOX28 Cedar Rapids reported. With wind chill at the time police found Belz was minus 51 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

The teen had been Snapchatting with his girlfriend late Tuesday and told her he was going to bed, his dad said, according to the Daily Iowan.

He’d graduated in May from Kennedy High School, where he played football.

Foul play isn’t suspected and zero alcohol was found in Belz’s system, police said.

The University of Iowa in a statement on Twitter wrote they were “saddened by the loss of a member of the Hawkeye family.”

Police are continuing the investigation into his death. The university canceled classes until Thursday amid the frigid weather.

In Indiana, a 22-year-old police officer and his wife were killed in a crash on an icy road, South Bend station WBND reported. Ligonier Police Officer Ethan Kiser’s SUV spun into the path of another SUV, killing the couple and the driver of the other vehicle, 21-year-old Shawna Kiser, officials told the station.

Other deaths included a man struck and killed by a snow plow in the Chicago area and a Milwaukee man found frozen to death in a garage.

The arctic air Wednesday had closed schools and businesses and strained infrastructure with some of the lowest temperatures in a generation. The deep freeze snapped rail lines, canceled hundreds of flights and strained utilities.

The Postal Service suspended mail delivery in parts of the Midwest amid the deep freeze.

Temperatures recorded Wednesday saw Chicago drop to a low of around minus 23 degrees. Milwaukee had similar conditions. Minneapolis recorded minus 27 degrees. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, saw minus 25 degrees.

While the deadly cold weather system that put much of the Midwest into a historic deep freeze was expected to ease Thursday, temperatures could still tumble to record lows in some places before the region begins to thaw out.

Before the worst of the cold begins to lift, the National Weather Service said Chicago could hit lows early Thursday that break the city’s record of minus 27 degrees set on Jan. 20, 1985.

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