Body found outside Fenwick High School identified; investigated as possible hypothermia, coroner says

Body found outside Fenwick High School identified; investigated as possible hypothermia, coroner says
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 11:06 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2022 at 11:14 AM EST
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WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - Middletown police and the Warren County Coroner’s Office are investigating the death of an elderly woman found outside Bishop Fenwick High School early Wednesday as possible hypothermia, Coroner Russell Uptegrove tells FOX19 NOW.

The body of Waultraut Lafferty, 80, was spotted shortly after 7 a.m. in the parking lot of the private Catholic school off Ohio 122, east of the Interstate 75 interchange, according to Middletown police.

The coroner says, Lafferty lived on Fisher Road near the high school.

Investigators think she became disoriented and ended up at the school.

Morning lows across the Tri-State bottomed out in the single digits with subzero wind chills for what was our coldest air so far this winter season, according to the National Weather Service.

In Middletown, temperatures were even colder. The low was recorded at 3 degrees with calm wind between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., the weather service says.

Uptegrove said he was not sure how long Lafferty was outside before she was found.

“She could have had a heart attack or a fall,” he said. “We have to rule those things out but, because of how cold it was last night and being outside, hypothermia is certainly a possibility to consider.”

The Warren County coroner says there is no definitive cause of death yet.

Middletown police ask anyone with information regarding this situation to call 513-425-7737.

Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to very cold temperatures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced. Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body’s stored energy which leads to lower body temperature.

A body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well.

This makes hypothermia especially dangerous, because a person may not know that it’s happening and won’t be able to do anything about it, the CDC says.

Victims of hypothermia are often older adults with inadequate food, clothing or heat and/or people who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc., or babies sleeping in very cold rooms, according to the CDC.

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