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updated: 1/23/2013 10:42 AM

Cold may be cause for several suburban deaths

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    Graphic: Cold weather tips (click image to open)


Several suburban deaths, including a man who died in his unheated home, are being investigated to determine if the extreme cold weather is to blame.

Investigators at the Cook County Medical Examiner's office say the Des Plaines man's death is one of seven related to the cold spell that has frozen the area for the past two days. Temperatures dropped to minus 1 at O'Hare International Airport early Tuesday.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's office reported 70-year-old Lawrence Sviontek of Des Plaines died of hypothermia. Des Plaines police found his body in his unheated mobile home in the 1300 block of Rand Road Sunday. A friend had called police to check on him.

Elsewhere, the body of 30-year-old Lucas Lindley of Arlington Heights was found late Sunday inside his locked car parked outside of a bar on the 1000 block of Fountain View Drive in Carol Stream. His autopsy is still under way, DuPage County Coroner's officials said. He was dressed in light clothes and the battery in the car was dead, coroner's officials said.

An autopsy is also under way on 46-year-old Valentin Carlos of Glen Ellyn. Lombard police found Carlos' body at about 8:30 a.m. Monday lying in a parking lot near a number of empty beer bottles in the 0-100 block of West Roosevelt Road. There were no signs of violence, police said.

Round Lake Park police found the body of 20-year-old Joseph Frase of Grayslake at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday near Campbell Airport. Frase had been missing since leaving a party at about 1 a.m. Sunday morning in Round Lake. Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd said there were no obvious signs of trauma and that finding a cause of death will require an autopsy, which will be performed today.

Governments have begun opening warming shelters in the suburbs, and the Illinois Toll Highway Authority has special patrols out to keep on the lookout for motorists stranded in the extreme cold. Stranded drivers can dial *999 from their cellphones to ask for help, tollway officials said. Motorists are also being reminded to be careful driving over bridges where ice can form much easier. Pet owners are also being warned to let pets out only when necessary.

Winter might actually stick around for a while, meteorologists say. Normally, the Chicago area averages a daily high of 36 degrees in February, but forecasts call for a colder month ahead.

"Next month we're anticipating colder than average temperatures," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Meteorologist David Unger said of the Chicago area. "Over the next three months we're expecting above average precipitation, but the snow versus rain question is dependent on individual weather systems."

The Chicago area has seen a lack of snowfall going as far back as the February 2011 blizzard. There's been barely an inch this winter, and that comes on the heels of last winter's snowfall totals that struggled to reach the 20-inch mark for the season.

For the time being, Unger said the suburbs are dealing with the first lingering blast of arctic weather this winter because of a "sudden stratospheric warming" that occurred about two weeks ago and pushed the cold down from the north.

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