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Heat blamed in deaths of two St. Louisans

Thursday, July 10, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- The hot, humid weather that has settled over Missouri for the past week was blamed in the deaths of two St. Louis area residents, the first heat-related deaths in Missouri this year, health officials said.

The body of Robert A. Kimble, 54, of north St. Louis County, was found just after 4 a.m. Sunday outside of Busch Stadium by a stadium security guard, officials at the St. Louis medical examiner's office said.

It wasn't immediately clear why Kimble was there at that hour. The Cardinals were in Chicago over the weekend.

Medical Examiner Michael Graham said Kimble had a body temperature of nearly 106 degrees.

On Monday night, the body of James D. Earl Sr., 78, was found in his St. Louis home. Graham said the house had air conditioning but the thermostat was set high. The windows were shut and a fan was not turned on. Authorities said the temperature inside the brick home was in the 90s.

Earl had a body temperature of 111 degrees.

Daytime temperatures in much of Missouri have reached into the 90s for the past week. Cooler temperatures were expected today, with a forecast high of about 85 degrees in St. Louis.

Last summer, 24 Missourians died from the heat. Over the past 10 summers, 286 heat-related deaths have been reported in the state, said Carol Steinman of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Steinman said the very young, the elderly and chronically ill are particularly susceptible to the heat. Some medications can impair the body's response to heat.

Missourians should check on elderly relatives and neighbors during hot spells, Steinman said.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness and weakness, dizziness or fainting, headaches and nausea or vomiting.

The state health department suggests that those experiencing symptoms should rest in a cool place, loosen clothing, cool down with a shower, bath or sponge bath, drink nonalcoholic and caffeine-free beverages, and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen or last for more than an hour.

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