DFW Heat-Related Deaths Climbing

By Shane Allen
|  Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010  |  Updated 11:15 AM CDT
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DFW Heat-Related Deaths Climbing

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The little boy's body was found on the floor of the van and prosecutors say he'd attempted to get out.

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Authorities suspect the oppressive heat may have caused the death of a North Texas man Monday.  

Neighbors called 911 after seeing the man, 52-year-old Johnny Dean Lewis, lying in his backyard on Beaumont Street in Grand Prairie Monday afternoon, police said. 

There were no signs of foul play, investigators said.

Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office won't know for another 8 - 10 weeks exactly how Lewis died, it said Tuesday.

If examiners determine he died as a result of this summer’s heat wave, as police suspect, Lewis will be the 20th suspected heat-related fatality this year.  That's according to an NBCDFW review of Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Collin County medical examiners’ office data.

Since April 30, eight deaths in Dallas County have been directly linked to heat.  Four more deaths are still pending, but heat is suspected to be a contributing factor in those, according to medical examiner’s office reports.

One person died on May 27 in Tarrant County as a result of the heat.  Another Fort Worth man died on June 9, and investigators attributed that to the hot weather as well.

In Denton County, two people died this summer, but both had underlying medical issues that may have weakened their ability to deal with the oppressive weather, an investigator said.

Three people in Collin County succumbed to the heat—two in June and one this month.   The office of the Collin County Medical Examiner did not provide any specificity as to the circumstances surrounding these heat-related deaths.

To put things in perspective, Dallas County had an average of six heat-related deaths between 1999 and 2004, according to data posted on the Texas Department of State Health Services website.   Tarrant had an average of three deaths per year during the same timeframe.

Collin County had a total of four heat deaths from 1999-2004.

Data wasn't immediately available for the years of 2005 - 2009.

For now, we seem to be getting some relief from the heat spell of triple digit temps.   Tuesday’s high is forecast to be 99 degrees, with the temps not going over that for the next five days.

Temps Monday spiked to 110 degrees in some areas. 

We’re still not out of the woods, yet.  Triple digit temperatures have been known to carry over into the beginning of September.

See the latest NBCDFW weather forecast

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