Winter weather continues, threat of hypothermia remains

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — At least 2 people have died of hypothermia this winter as Oregon continues to get slammed with treacherous weather.

On January 2, officers found a homeless man who died on E Burnside Street. The medical examiner determined he died of hypothermia.

Just days later, 52-year-old Karen Batts was found dead in a car parked in a garage on SW 10th Avenue. She also reportedly died of hypothermia.

KOIN 6 News learned Batts previously lived in a low-income apartment at SW 3rd Avenue and Oak Street, just blocks away from where her body was found.

In October, she was served with a 72-hour eviction notice for being late on 3 months rent, damage to the unit she was living in and for run-ins with other tenants.

Northwest Housing Alternatives — the group that runs the property — said they tried getting Batts help on several occasions, but she refused.

Martha McLennan, the group’s executive director, said the sheriff’s office was notified and Batts was removed. She allegedly told authorities she had a place to go.

“If people don’t accept the services offered, or don’t seek out the service, then they might find themselves very alone,” McLennan said. “It sounds like that’s what happened in this situation.”

And with Portland’s winter weather far from over, the threat of hypothermia remains a possibility, especially for those who find themselves without a place to stay.

Rachel Lemke with Legacy GoHealth Urgent Care says there are certain signs that indicate whether someone is suffering from hypothermia.

“If somebody is unresponsive or seems to be slurring their speech, if they seem to be breathing very, very quickly or very, very slowly, those can all be indicators that this person needs to seek shelter immediately and should get medical care,” Lemke said.

Rain and other forms of precipitation can speed things up, too.

“Certain factors like drinking alcohol or having wet clothing on can make a person more likely to experience hypothermia at a faster rate,” she continued.

For information on warming shelters open near you, call 211 or click here.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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