Freezing winter temperatures took the life of a 64-year-old man sitting on his porch in Akron, Ohio.
Mobile Meals worker Sara Henson discovered Darnell Wilson's cold, stiff body exposed to the elements on Jan. 2. The high temperature was a mere 14 degrees that day, according to WGN.
Henson hadn't visited the residence since before her Christmas-week vacation, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. She noticed something unusual about the placement of the chairs on Wilson's porch.
"I was kind of nervous walking onto the porch because I just knew something was wrong," Henson said.
Wilson was lying on his back next to his cane and wheelchair. His slippers were not on his feet, but on the other side of the porch. It's unknown why or for how long he was outside.
"I don’t know whether he’s breathing or not,” Henson told the dispatcher, attempting to restrain herself from showing her fear. "I’m freaking out."
Henson said it's not unheard of to find Mobile Meals recipients dead in their homes, but she was frightened to find Wilson outside.
Authorities confirmed Wilson's identity. His granddaughter told WEWS that he was a "loving" and "outgoing" man with three children and six grandchildren. She said that while he sometimes used a wheelchair, he was capable of walking with a cane.
Officers said the senior had lived with another person who was not home at the time of his death.
On Jan. 4, the medical examiner's office declared that Wilson had died of hypothermia.
Cold weather poses a problem for all groups, which is why it's especially important to keep track of children, older family members and pets during winter months.
Dr. Victor McKee, a physician in Ohio, told WFMJ that parents should make sure to cover the "danger zones," the feet, hands, head and face.
McKee recommends driving children to the bus stop and waiting with them in the car for as long as possible so as to minimize outdoor exposure.
The Agency on Aging says people lose body fat as they age, making the elderly more vulnerable to the cold. They recommend ensuring older family members have adequate food supplies, drinking water and access to a working phone that can withstand a power outage.
Pets should be brought indoors and remain there until temperatures increase.
"Even though a lot of people say, 'Oh it's just a dog, they can be out in this weather,' this weather is too extreme for animals," said Mary Louk, president of the Animal Charity Board. "They can get hypothermia in a matter of minutes, especially your short breed dogs."