St. Louis County woman’s death blamed on the heat

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) – St. Louis County is confirming its first heat death of the summer.

The victim was Gloria Curtis, 85.

She died Friday in Clayton, while sunbathing on Friday, June 24.

Curtis had been living at the Bethesda Barclay House in the 200 block of Brentwood Boulevard.

It is an independent living senior citizens apartment building.

Her son Bob Curtis says she had been lying at the building's pool for about an hour and a half when a visitor noticed she was not moving an alerted the staff.

Faisal Khan, the Director of the St. Louis County Health Department says Curtis was a victim of heat exhaustion, which caused her to pass out before she died.

'This just goes to underline the fact that heat exhaustion is something that is insidious and that can come very quickly,' Khan said. 'People don`t realize it when the heat index is close to 105 or 106 as it was when this incident occurred.  The temperature was only 96 degrees outside.  However the person`s core body temperature was about 112 degrees when the body was discovered,' he said.

Khan says whenever the heat index reaches 100 degrees; it is time to get out of the sun.

The signs of heat exhaustion include dizziness, nausea and heavy sweating. If the person stops sweating they may be having a heat stroke.

So far this summer, the county has had 39 people treated for heat related illness.  The City of St. Louis has had 12, but no heat related deaths.

'This happened in a relatively affluent part of the county so this can happen anywhere,' Khan said. 'Affluence doesn`t protect you.  It`s important that every single individual who is vulnerable to heat exhaustion takes the necessary precautions."

Bob Curtis says his family hopes his mother`s passing will remind others of the importance of checking on the elderly in extreme weather because they don`t always realize when they are too hot.

A spokesperson for Bethesda issued a written statement saying, 'We at Bethesda Barclay House and throughout the Bethesda organization are deeply saddened at the loss of one of our residents.'