‘Heartbreaking': 3 Weather-Related Deaths Under Investigation in Fairfax County

Two women in their 80s were found in snow, and a man in his 40s was found in an apartment building's laundry room. He stayed there after losing his unit in the building, a neighbor said

Police in Fairfax County, Virginia, are asking for help preventing weather-related accidents after two women in their 80s recently died after being found in snow, and a homeless man in his 40s died after being found in a laundry room.

Joan Ackley, 88, died after being found outside of a nursing home in Reston, county police said Wednesday. Ida Wolk, 86, died after being found outside of an assisted living facility in Reston.

And Kenneth Perez, 47, died after being found sleeping on top of washing machines in an apartment complex in Fairfax. Perez apparently was trying to stay warm.

"Each one of these cases is heartbreaking," Maj. Ed O'Carroll said. 

All three deaths are being investigated as weather-related. The D.C. area has faced freezing temperatures in recent weeks, with heavy snowfall and a blast of bitter cold.

The first of the deaths occurred after an incident Monday, Jan. 14. Officers were sent to a CPR in progress at Brightview Senior Living, at 10200 Colvin Run Road in Reston. The staff said Ackley had been missing for 2 1/2 hours, police said. She was found outside the facility and pronounced dead.

A week later, on Monday, Jan. 21, officers were called at about 11:30 a.m. to an apartment complex in the 9800 block of Clifford Drive in Fairfax. A resident reported a homeless person sleeping in the laundry room. Firefighters arrived and pronounced Perez dead.

Perez once lived in a unit in the apartment complex, a neighbor said. When he became homeless, he often sought shelter in the laundry room. 

"He [was] like an older person who's making sure these kids don't go down the wrong paths. He was the neighborhood watch," the man said. 

Later on Jan. 21, at about 3:30 p.m., officers were informed of a woman who was missing from the Sunrise at Reston Town Center assisted living facility, at 1778 Fountain Drive in Reston. The staff said Wolk, a resident, had been missing for almost three hours.

Officers searched the building for Wolk. Finally, an officer "looked out a window in the rear of the building and saw the woman laying outside in the snow," police said. It was just 21 degrees outside. 

Officers wrapped Wolk in blankets. She was rushed to a hospital, where she died.

Medical examiners' results in each case are pending. There's no decision yet on whether there will be charges in any of the three cases. 

Sunrise, the assisted living facility, said they "cherish each and every resident and are heartbroken by this tragedy." 

"We are cooperating with local authorities in their investigation and supporting the family," the company said in a statement. 

Police asked residents to check on family members, friends and neighbors during cold weather. If someone appears to be confused or not properly dressed for cold weather, call the Fairfax County Police Department's non-emergency number at 703-691-2131.

"Three deaths is three too many," O'Carroll, the police major, said. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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