An 81-year-old woman died after being overcome by heat while at Lake Boutin in Trail of Tears State Park, Cape Girardeau County Coroner John Clifton said this morning.
The woman, a Cape Girardeau resident, was on a family outing Wednesday when she fell victim to the heat and became unresponsive, Clifton said. The woman was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital. The woman was the first heat-related death reported during the prolonged heat wave that has been baking the region since late July.
The woman and her family were having a picnic at the park that began about 12:30 p.m., Clifton said. After spending several hours at the park, the 81-year-old woman moved into the shade, he said, and when her family checked on her in the late afternoon, they found her unresponsive, he said.
Family members took her to Cape Girardeau Fire Department Station No. 3, where an ambulance was called, Clifton said.
The heat was just too much for the woman, he said. Afternoon temperatures Wednesday peaked around 4 p.m. at 102 degrees. The heat index at that time was between 107 and 110 degrees.
The woman's name was being withheld Thursday morning pending notification of all local family members, Clifton said.
The Wednesday high temperature of 102 degrees was the highest recorded so far this summer and the 21st consecutive day of highs above 90 degrees. A heat advisory was in effect at the time and another advisory was issued this morning, effective until 8 p.m., in anticipation of highs that will again approach or exceed 100 degrees.
The National Weather Service advisory warned people to be alert for heat-related illness, to drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the sun and check on relatives and neighbors.
At least six other deaths across Missouri have been attributed to the heat.
For updates, check back at www.semissourian.com or read Friday's Southeast Missourian.