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Shoveling has resulted in tragedy for five Milwaukee-area families; five snow-related deaths reported

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — More snow falling Tuesday evening, February 3rd means another reason to shovel. But with that comes a warning to be careful. This, after five people in the Milwaukee area have died this week while trying to clean up the snow.

We all know how dangerous snow-covered walkways, driveways and sidewalks can be, but for some, cleaning up that snow can be deadly.

A foot of snow was measured at General Mitchell International Airport by the time the weekend winter storm moved out. All that snow, combined with the cold and the exercise of shoveling has led to tragedy for five Milwaukee-area families.

Marquette University Associate Professor of Philosophy Bill Starr died over the weekend while shoveling snow near his Shorewood home.  The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office says Starr was found dead Sunday, February 1st by his wife, who looked outside and saw him on the ground after he had been shoveling. Paramedics administered CPR, but it was unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead shortly after 3:00 p.m. Sunday. The Medical Examiner’s Office says he had a heart history — having suffered a heart attack and a stroke in the past.

Marquette University released a letter to faculty and students calling Starr, who had been at the university since 1980 a dedicated teacher and a good colleague. He was 69 years old.

In West Allis, a 62-year-old man died Sunday while snowblowing. We’re told Thomas Scheller collapsed while snow blowing. Paramedics administered CPR, but it was unsuccessful. The Medical Examiner’s Office says he had a history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and he had been complaining of left shoulder pain.

A 64-year-old Milwaukee man died Monday, February 2nd. According to the Medical Examiner’s report, the man was brought to St. Francis Hospital. He was declared brain dead around 3:30 p.m. Monday, February 2nd.

We’re told two men in Racine County — a 66-year-old man and a 55-year-old man died while shoveling snow over the weekend. The younger man had no known history of heart disease.

Cardiologist David Engle says heart vessels constrict in the cold and stress the heart, especially during exercise.

“That part doesn’t get enough blood and they just go down. No warning. Nothing. BOOM — sudden cardiac death. It’s very common,” Dr. Engle said.

Dr. Engle says he’s had recent calls from patients who are suffering from cardiac symptoms. Classic symptoms include discomfort in the chest and pain in an arm or jaw. Engle says folks shouldn’t shovel if they have a heart condition. If you must…

“You really need to put a scarf over your head or wear a mask so the air you breathe in is pre-warmed,” Dr. Engle said.

Dr. Engle says the same is true when it comes to roof raking. That exercise can put a lot of stress on the heart.

1 Comment

  • bderk.

    just so sad. When we see the elderly out shoveling, we need to stop and help. My 70 year old neighbor was out Monday shoveling . I asked her to stop and I shoveled for her. I am praying for all the families to watch over them while dealing with the pain!

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