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updated: 2/3/2011 8:43 PM

Blizzard's death toll rises to nine in suburbs

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  • Six people in the suburbs died while shoveling snow from the blizzard. Three other people died related to the storm, authorities said.

    Six people in the suburbs died while shoveling snow from the blizzard. Three other people died related to the storm, authorities said.
    Bev Horne


The local death toll rose to nine on Thursday.

Six people died shoveling snow. A Kane County employee collapsed Wednesday after plowing the roads. A Mundelein woman was found dead in her car, and a Barrington substitute teacher was identified Thursday as the storm's first victim; he died Tuesday night while walking to his car.

Four of the shoveling deaths -- all men in their 60s -- were in DuPage County.
One man apparently shoveled for five hours before coming in the house and collapsing, the DuPage County Coroner's office reported.

Given the huge snowfall, doctors weren't surprised to see an increase in heart attacks.

"Shoveling heavy snow just puts an extreme stress on the heart," said Dr. Michael McGill, a cardiologist at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield. And the stress is exacerbated by the extreme cold, which causes blood vessels to constrict.
For someone who is not physically fit, "It's like not training and running a marathon," McGill said.

The shoveling victims were:

• A 69-year-old man who died about 1:42 p.m. Wednesday at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, where he was rushed by ambulance after he collapsed while shoveling.

• A 62-year-old man who went back into his house after suffering chest pains while clearing snow and died shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday at Central DuPage Hospital. He was taken to the hospital by Carol Stream Fire Department ambulance.

• A 69-year-old man who was found unresponsive by his wife a short time after returning to his house after shoveling snow for five hours. The Glendale Heights Police Department responded and the man was pronounced dead at the home at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday.

• A 61-year-old Carol Stream man who apparently cleared a portion of his driveway on Wednesday and went back into the house. Family members found him the next morning, and he was pronounced dead by emergency personnel at 7:55 a.m. Thursday.

• An 83-year-old Libertyville man, who died Wednesday night.

• A man in Kane County.

Identities of the victims have not been released.

In Kane County, transportation department employee William Scardamaglia was refilling his snow plowing truck with salt when he was stricken, county board Chairman Karen McConnaughay said in a news release. Despite advanced efforts at the scene, he was pronounced dead at Delnor Community Hospital in Geneva.

Two more blizzard-related deaths were reported that did not involve shoveling.
A 57-year-old Mundelein woman found dead in her car likely died from cold-related causes, officials said Thursday. Susan Smith, 57, was discovered about 5 p.m. Wednesday in her car outside Alpine Chapel, 1180 Heather Drive, Lake Zurich.

Smith, who worked at the church, had been missing since Tuesday and was found by relatives searching for her, Lake County Coroner Richard Keller said. The engine of Smith's car was off when she was found, and the vehicle was not out of gas, Keller said.

Smith had diabetes, but it was not immediately known if the disease contributed to her death. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

The storm's first victim was identified Thursday as 69-year-old David Shotts of Lake in the Hills. Shotts, a Barrington Unit School Dist. 220 substitute teacher, suffered a fatal heart attack as he walked through a school parking lot as the blizzard started Tuesday afternoon. He was a former South Barrington village trustee.

Daily Herald reporters Russell Lissau, Lee Filas and Chuck Keeshan contributed to this report.