The Herald Bulletin

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January 5, 2014

Cold a factor in death of Anderson man

ANDERSON, Ind. — The combination of the heavy snow and cold temperatures is being blamed for the death of an Anderson man who collapsed while shoveling snow.

David Garrett, 66, had been shoveling snow Sunday at his residence. After some time, he hadn't come back into the house and his wife found him outside. He was transported to Community Hospital and pronounced dead of a heart-related issue at 6:17 p.m., according to Madison County Coroner Marian Dunnichay.

Dunnichay said the weather and heavy snow definitely played a role in the man's death.

"It was early in the evening, so it wasn't so much the temperature as the weight of the snow and the strain on his heart," Dunnichay said. "Unless you're in good shape, it's not the safest thing to be done. It's heavier than most people think, and it was still below freezing, so that puts an extra strain on your respiratory system. I'd say it was definitely weather-related."

Madison County residents survived the first day of sub-zero temperatures Monday, but the county is not out of the woods as Old Man Winter prepares to deliver a second frigid punch.

Temperatures started Monday in the range of 9 degrees below zero and by early afternoon dropped to minus 11. Overnight temperatures were expected to drop to minus 17 with wind chills in the range of minus 20 to minus 40 degrees.

Madison County remains under a state of emergency as all county roads are considered closed. The Madison County Emergency Management Agency Monday said there were drifts up to 5 feet high on east/west roads and in some rural areas as high as 10 feet.

The city of Anderson lowered the level of the emergency on Monday to a travel advisory only because of blowing snow and drifting streets.

Snowfall on Sunday ranged from 7.5 inches near Pendleton to 12 inches in Anderson and Elwood, according to local weather spotters for WTHR-TV in Indianapolis.

Todd Harmeson, public information officer for Madison County EMA, said there were 1,070 customers without electric power throughout the county on Monday afternoon.

Madison County Commissioner Steffanie Owens said it was taking four to five hours for utility crews to restore power.

“The north/south roads are drifting closed,” Harmeson said. “Crews are plowing the roads and in one hour it doesn’t look like they have been touched.”

EMA officials opened warming centers Monday at the Millcreek Civic Center in Chesterfield, Salvation Army in Anderson and St. Vincent Hospital in Elwood.

The Madison County Government Center and other county offices are not scheduled to open until 10 a.m. today, if they open at all, Owens said.

“The cold temperatures will continue through the night,” Owens said. “We remain under a snow emergency. The roads are drifting shut in many different areas in the county.”

She said Highway Department crews worked through the night and were getting stuck on the roads.

“I appreciate the citizens helping the crews that have gotten stuck,” Owens said. “We’re all in this together.”

Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith said Monday the city’s snow task force worked through the night clearing the main thoroughfares and two private contractors were hired to assist with the effort.

“I’m proud of the city team that battled the storm,” Smith said. “It appears we have been successful in the venture of keeping the roads passable.”

He said there have been sporadic power outages in Anderson, but currently it appears to be single outages remaining from individual downed power lines.

Anderson Municipal Light & Power requested mutual aid and a crew from Richmond Power & Light responded to assist in restoring power.

“The problem is with tree limbs coming down and hitting the power lines,” Smith said.

David Eicks, a dispatcher with Anderson Light & Power, said there were a few large outages on Sunday but by Monday morning the situation was down to single outages.

He said there was an outage along VanBuskirk, a broken pole on West 38th Street, and two circuits went out at a substation north of Eastside Elementary School.

"We are having an issue on Central Avenue and Fletcher Street between the 2100 and 2300 block," Eicks said. "The power keeps going in and out."

Smith said the city rescinded the Level 3 travel warning, restricting travel to emergency workers, to a Level 1 travel advisory on Monday.

“The task force will continue to work through the night to make the neighborhoods accessible,” he said. “We are experiencing some equipment failures. This storm has been tough on equipment because of the amount of snow being pushed.”

Madison County Commissioner John Richwine said the state of emergency remains in effect for the county, limiting travel to emergency workers and other essential employees.

“The Highway Department crews are working in 12-hour shifts,” he said. “We have positioned the snow plows at designated areas, mostly fire stations, to assist emergency personnel.”

Richwine said the main thoroughfares have been plowed and the crews have continued working to keep those open.

In Elwood, Mayor Ron Arnold said streets are considered open, but the winds are causing drifting in some areas of the city.

“We had a couple of power outages on Sunday, but AEP (American Electric Power) did a good job in restoring power,” he said.

The city has six trucks and three back-hoes working to keep the streets passable.

“There have been no emergencies,” Arnold said. “We’ve been blessed. It appears people were prepared for the storm.”

Alexandria Mayor Jack Woods reported most main roads were open, but the streets were drifting in some area.

“The street crews did a great job,” Woods said. “There have been some power outages.”

The Alexandria Senior Center was opened as a warming center, he said.

“There have been no real emergencies,” Woods said. “Everything was quiet overnight (Sunday).”

Mark Farrer, chief of the Pendleton Police Department, said it appears that residents had enough time to prepare for the storm.

“We’ve been fortunate,” he said.

Farrer said the streets in Pendleton are passable if motorists drive slowly, but county roads outside the town were drifting shut.

Follow Ken de la Bastide @KendelaBastide on Twitter, or call 640-4863.

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