Sunday, August 01, 1999

Heat kills 2 more

Cooling trend moves in tonight

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Two more deaths in Hamilton County were blamed on the heat wave Saturday, raising the death toll to 12.

        The Hamilton County coroner's office identified the victims as Horace Langton, 54, who lived on the same Price Hill street as a man found dead last week from the heat, and 104-year-old Edna Miller of Newtown. Both were found in their sweltering homes. Neither had air conditioning.

        Officials in Northern Kentucky, meanwhile, are investigating what factor the heat played in the death of a Covington woman.

        Saturday's high was 97 degrees, reached at 4:37 p.m. at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Lunken and Hamilton airports recorded highs of 101 degrees.

        Tonight should usher in the beginning of a cooling trend, though. After an expected high today of 89, temperatures should fall to 62 tonight, making for more comfortable sleeping.

        High temperatures Monday through Thursday should remain in the low 80s. Stray showers or thunderstorms are possible, as well.

        The heat wave has claimed 144 deaths nationwide since July 19.

        In Missouri, the heat has taken 39 lives. Chicago authorities said Saturday that as many as 50 residents died as a result of the relentless heat wave that enveloped much of the nation and produced the hottest July on record in New York City.

        Mayor Richard Daley confirmed 26 deaths were tied to the heat and humidity Friday and Saturday. Another 20 deaths were possibly linked to the sticky weather, the mayor said.

        Mayor Daley urged Chicago residents to check on relatives and friends, particularly those who were elderly or ill.

        “You could save their life,” he said.

Neighbors tried
        That didn't happen in Greater Cincinnati, though. Frustrated neighbors of Mr. Langton, who lived in the 1100 block of Elberon Avenue, said they tried to convince him to see a doctor. He complained about a stomach ache a few days before his death.

        Mr. Langton also refused to use a fan, because he wanted to feel a breeze coming through his window.

        “That's hot air coming in,” neighbor Rodney Bedford said he told Mr. Langton's aunt, Dorothy Kniemiller.

        Ms. Kniemiller lived with her nephew in the Elberon Avenue home, across the street from where Eugene Gallagher, 85, died from the heat last week. He, too, refused neighbors' help and turned down the offer of an air conditioner.

        “I can't understand it,” Mr. Bedford said. After Mr. Gallagher's death, Mr. Bedford said he stopped in regularly to check on Ms. Kniemiller and her nephew.

        “I warned them, I told them, I checked in on them, and this is what happened,” Mr. Bedford said. “I just told them the other day I hope I don't come up here and find one of you.”

        He described Mr. Langton as serious, quiet and without a job for the 28 years Mr. Bedford knew him.

        On Thursday, he saw the two at their front door.

        They told him about Mr. Langton's stomach ache. “He said maybe it might be heat related.” Mr. Bedford told them to get him to a doctor and to a cool spot. “He said he'd be all right.”

        On Saturday morning, Ms. Kniemiller found Mr. Langton dead, lying across the doorjamb of his room.

        Authorities said his body temperature was 108 degrees. He died of heat stroke, according to the Hamilton County coroner's office.

        Across town, the vigilance of Newtown police Sgt. Donald Foster could not save Ms. Miller, who lived in the 3300 block of Church Street. She, too, refused air conditioners or help getting to a cooler spot when the Newtown fire chief had stopped to check on her the day before.

        At 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Sgt. Foster saw the lights on at her house during a patrol, which worried him. When investigators got no answer, they broke in and found her on the floor near the phone, her body temperature 109 degrees, The house had fans but no air conditioner and was “locked up tight,” the windows closed, said Newtown Police Chief Daryl Zornes.

Another victim?
        In Northern Kentucky, Kenton County Deputy Coroner Norbert Medley said autopsy results on Mary Faller, 91, would be made public today.

        He said the temperature probably aggravated Ms. Faller's existing heart condition. But he said he could not blame the heat as the primary cause of death.

        Ms. Faller lived alone in a house in the 300 block of Trevor Street and had no known family. Her home was without central air and didn't have much ventilation.

        A neighbor found her Saturday morning and called police. The temperature inside her house was above 90 degrees when the deputy coroner arrived.

        “This lady actually refused to leave the fan on in the (bedroom) she was in,” Mr. Medley said, adding that several of her windows were covered with plastic.

        The Associated Press and reporter Earnest Winston contributed to this report.


- Heat kills 2 more
The victims: 12 who died from heat
In summer of '34, cool was hard to find
Forecast and tips for coping with the heat