Cold weather led to death of Rock County man, coroner says

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Frank Schultz
Thursday, January 30, 2014

TOWN OF AVON—The death of a town of Avon man on Monday is a reminder that winter weather can be dangerous, acting Rock County Coroner Lou Smit said.

Smit said Thomas G. Svoboda, 61, was found dead Monday evening near a rural residence. A heart attack figured in the death, but the weather also played a role, Smit said.

An autopsy was to be performed Thursday to determine exactly how the death occurred.

Svoboda was last seen alive around 9 a.m. Monday. Smit said he had walked about one-quarter mile to his brother's house and was returning when he collapsed.

Svoboda's girlfriend became concerned and went looking for him around 5 p.m. and found him a short time later, Smit said.

Smit has reported the death to the state health department as weather-related.

Smit said the temperature was minus 8 degrees, with a wind chill of minus 25, at the time that deputy coroners were called to the scene Monday evening.

Rock County Emergency Management and other agencies had publicized the dangers of exposure in advance of the cold, Smit said.

Smit has heard a report that suggests the current cold-weather pattern will continue into February, and he urged motorists to carry blankets, water and their medications if they are traveling any distance.

People with heart ailments should not be removing snow, Smit said.

“It's not necessarily the (shoveling) efforts. It's the shock of the cold weather that could cause a medical event,” Smit said.

Svoboda's is the only weather-related death reported in Rock County this winter.

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