Death Toll at 8 After Winter Storm Hits Oklahoma

By KEN MILLER | December 11, 2013

The death toll from the recent storm that brought snow, sleet, ice and subfreezing temperatures to Oklahoma since late last week rose to 8 on Monday.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reported the state medical examiner’s office has confirmed that the deaths were weather-related – including three fatal traffic accidents.

Before the revised number was released Monday afternoon, only one death had been linked to the weather, according to ODEM spokeswoman Keli Cain.

“We were waiting on the ME’s office for official confirmation that they were weather-related,” Cain said.

The victims include a 5-year-old killed in a traffic accident in Muskogee and a 6-year-old who fell through ice into a creek in Tulsa. The others are an 85-year-old man and 18-year-old man, both killed in auto accidents; a 56-year-old man and another man who died in fires; a 77-year-old woman who died of hypothermia and a 43-year-old man who was found dead in Oklahoma City – his cause of death is still pending.

The names of the victims have not been released.

The medical examiner’s office had limited staffing from Thursday afternoon until Monday because of the storm, according to Amy Elliott, spokeswoman for the agency.

“In the case of house fires, we had to rule out arson. In auto accidents, we had to rule out issues such as a cardiac arrest, to confirm that it (the death) was weather-related,” Elliott said.

Cain said ODEM’s Emergency Operations Center is no longer active, but that state emergency personnel are available.

“Since we know there’s still power outages and a couple of shelters open, we still have ODEM personnel working with those emergency managers down in those areas,” primarily southeastern Oklahoma, Cain said.

The National Weather Service said light snow would continue falling across northern Oklahoma on Monday night with up to an additional two inches of accumulation. Overnight lows were to be between 10 to 20 degrees, and then a slight warming was expected to begin Tuesday, with highs expected from just above freezing to near 40 degrees.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reported more than 3,600 homes and businesses were still without power across the state Monday, 3,500 of which were customers of Choctaw Electric Cooperative in Choctaw, Pushmataha, LeFlore and McCurtain counties.

At the height of the storm Friday, there were more than 9,300 homes and businesses without power.

The American Red Cross had shelters open at Choctaw Nation Community Centers in Antlers and Hugo and at Friendship Baptist Fellowship church in Cameron.

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