ANDERSON — The harsh winter storm that passed this week through Indiana has left local families mourning for two men who died in separate weather-related incidents.
Jordan Michael Hutton, 23, and David Garrett, 66, both of Anderson, died as a result of weather-related issues over the course of the gigantic storm system, which started on Sunday night when about a foot of snow was dumped on most of the state.
Temperatures then plummeted, well below-zero for Monday and parts of Tuesday, with deadly windchill values as low as 40.
Garrett died of heart-related issues Sunday night after a vigorous afternoon and evening of clearing snow from the paths of his Anderson home. Hutton went missing at about 3 a.m. Monday after he was dropped off by a friend near his home in the 2800 block of North County Road 350 West, just north of the city. Hutton's case is still being investigated by police, but it's currently believed that for some reason he wasn't able to get back to his home and died of exposure in the deadly, gusty night conditions. His body was found near the home on Tuesday afternoon.
According to Madison County Sheriff Ron Richardson, Hutton abandoned his car, which left the roadway, on Cross Street on Sunday night and was taken back home by police. Monday night, he was back in town again and received a ride home from a friend, who dropped Hutton off as close to his home as possible. Hutton's frozen body was discovered at about 3 p.m. Tuesday.
Aprile Reed, Hutton's aunt, said on Wednesday that the family was grieving the loss of the young Frankton High School graduate. She said she's unsure why Hutton didn't have a cellphone to call for help, and that investigators haven't told the family very much.
"Jordan was very loved, and we're going to miss him," Reed said.
Garrett was a high school and Anderson University football star and a lifelong resident of the city. On Wednesday, Nancy Garrett, his wife of 41 years, said he seemed to be a picture of good health for someone his age.
"There were no health issues we were aware of," she said.
Garrett was outside using a snow blower for much of Sunday afternoon, according to his wife. While the temperatures weren't dangerously cold, it was below freezing, and Madison County Coroner Marian Dunnichay said that heavy activity coupled with cold air intake is taxing on the respiratory system.
Nancy Garrett said her husband came inside after working, drenched in sweat. He then dried off and the two had dinner. As the temperatures started to drop, Garrett went outside one last time to briefly sweep some snow from bushes outside his home. He didn't come back inside. He was pronounced dead at Community Hospital Anderson at 6:17 p.m. that night.
Garrett and his wife were high school sweethearts. She said he had always been athletic; an avid golfer who regularly worked out at the gym. The two lived a quiet life together. She said she was happy that she was recently able to share a dance with her husband at a 1950s band concert.
"He was a really good dancer," she said. "The phone has been ringing off the hook. College football buddies around the country have been calling. They're all very upset. We're all upset. He was close to a lot of people."
After the unexpected passing of her husband, Nancy Garrett said she'd warn anyone about overexerting themselves in extreme weather.
"You have no idea how hard it is on your body, even if it's just a few inches of snow. He worked hard out there," she said.
County officials echoed her concerns. Madison County Emergency Management Agency spokesman Todd Harmeson said anyone who shovels snow should take regular breaks, and if you don’t need to be outside, you shouldn’t be.
Anderson Police Department spokesman Joel Sandefur said that if you go outside for any reason, you should let someone else know so they can check on you quickly.
St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital spokeswoman Marlene Carey said that if you know someone who lives alone, check on them regularly.
"The same goes for you if you live alone. Call a friend or family and let them know you're OK," Carey said.
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