An 18-year-old University of Iowa premed student was found unresponsive outdoors as extreme arctic weather brought the windchill in the Midwest down to -51 degrees. He tragically died later in a hospital.
A University of Iowa student tragically died after being found unresponsive outdoors during the polar vortex in the Midwest. Campus police found Gerald Belz, 18, unresponsive outside of a campus building just before 3 a.m. local time on Jan. 30. At the time the authorities found him, the wind chill outdoors was -51 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service.
Belz, who was in his second semester at the Iowa City-based university and hailed originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was transported to a hospital where he later died, a spokesperson for the University of Iowa told People. The spokesperson added that no foul play is suspected. The investigation into the teen’s death is ongoing, but officials believe the cause of death is weather-related. Belz’s family told local CBS affiliate KGAN in an interview that doctors confirmed Belz didn’t have any alcohol in his system at the time.
Belz’s father, Michael Belz, described his son as a “quiet, tough guy,” according to People. He also told KCCI-TV of Des Moines that his son, who was a premed student, wanted to be a cardiologist. “I want people to remember him as a compassionate person,” Michael Belz told the news outlet. “He had many more friends than I was aware of. He didn’t bring many friends over to the house, but we knew he had lots of friends.”
Saddened by the loss of a member of the Hawkeye family: pic.twitter.com/sMq4XRK1Ci
— University of Iowa (@uiowa) January 30, 2019
The University of Iowa took to Twitter to post a tribute to Belz. “We are saddened by the loss of a student from the Hawkeye family,” the statement, issued by Dean of Students Dr. Angie Reams, read. “Losing a fellow student and member of our Hawkeye family can be very difficult. I encourage you to reach out if you are in need of support.”
The Midwest, from the Dakotas to Western New York, is experiencing some of the coldest temperatures to hit the region in over 20 years, according to People. It was -23 degrees Fahrenheit in Chicago and -30 in Wisconsin on the morning of Jan. 30.