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Heat blamed in as many as 12 Oklahoma deaths

Authorities said four Oklahomans are confirmed dead from the heat, and eight others are thought to have died from heat-related causes.
BY BRYAN DEAN and MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: July 21, 2011

A heat wave that has gripped the state for weeks has contributed to as many as 12 deaths, and no relief is in sight.

Hyperthermia, or overheating of the body, caused three deaths. Excessive heat was a factor in the death of a fourth person and is suspected in the deaths of eight others, Cherokee Ballard, spokeswoman for the state medical examiner's office, said Wednesday.

“The risk of heat-related illness will continue this week as the weather pattern of hot days and warm nights persists,” the National Weather Service said in an advisory.

“Try to remain in an air-conditioned environment and learn to recognize the signs of heat stress. Check on friends, family and pets.”

Ballard said hyperthermia claimed the lives of Nathan Littledeer, 3, of Norman, who was found July 8 inside a car; Marcelino Calderon-Mora, 69, of Blackwell, who was found in a ditch after he had been pushing a lawn mower; and a third person from Tulsa whose gender and age were not released. Heat exposure was a contributing factor in the May death of a 74-year-old Norman woman.

Official causes still are being finalized for the eight others, although hot weather is suspected in the deaths of Preston Mayhan, 8, of Cyril, who died July 7 after he apparently crawled into the trunk of his mother's car; a 39-year-old Okarche man; two 45-year-old Shawnee men; a 73-year-old Shawnee man; an 87-year-old Cushing woman and two others whose ages and genders were not released.

Many others have suffered heat-related illnesses and injuries as temperatures have hovered around 100 degrees for much of the summer.

The temperature in Oklahoma City did not reach 100 Wednesday. Tuesday was the 28th day the city had a high of 100 or more this year. The record for a calendar year is 50 days of 100-degree temperatures, set in 1980. Highs are forecast to be 100 degrees or more for at least the next week.

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