A heat wave that sent temperatures soaring into triple-digits, breaking records throughout the Pacific Northwest, has been linked to four deaths on the North Olympic Peninsula.
A homeless man in Port Townsend and a well-known sports announcer in Forks are among the deaths reported. Two others — a man in Sequim and a woman in Jefferson County — have not been identified.
John Caswell, 62, was found dead in a grassy area in the Port Townsend QFC parking lot on June 28, said Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Laura Mikelson on Friday.
Heat was determined to be the sole cause of death. Caswell, whose next-of-kin has been notified, died of hyperthermia, heat stroke and natural heat exposure, Mikelson said.
Temperatures rose to 100 degrees in Port Townsend on that day.
Pete Haubrick, known as the voice of West End sports and a Quillayute Valley School District paraeducator, was found dead, also June 28, when the high temperature at the Quillayute Airport reached 110 degrees.
He was 51.
Heat is the suspected to be the cause of his death. Haubrick’s body was discovered at his 631 Ackerly St. home during a school district wellness check, according to authorities. It appeared that Haubrick had attempted to cool off the residence with a fan that cooled air with ice blocks placed in front of it, said Police Chief Mike Rowley.
An autopsy has been completed, but officials are awaiting a toxicology report before releasing a final determination of cause of death, said Mark Nichols, Clallam County prosecuting attorney and coroner, on Friday.
Heat is less clearly linked but still suspected in the death of an unidentified Sequim man in his 80s, according to Nichols.
The man was found dead sometime within the three-day period from June 26-28, Nichols said. That case remains under investigation and no additional information will be released until it is completed, the coroner said.
Hyperthermia contributed to the death of a 77-year-old woman with underlying health problems in Jefferson County, said Mikelson, who did not identify the woman because she was unsure if the next-of-kin had been notified.
The number of deaths reported in Jefferson County form June 26-28 was not unusual, Mikelson said.
That’s in contrast to the at least 10 who died over those three days in Clallam County. Generally during that rime period the number of death would be about three or four, he added.
“Anecdotally, for a number of senior citizens who perished who had underlying health conditions, it would not surprise me if heat had a role in precipitating an underlying health condition and became exacerbated and resulted in a fatality.”
The statewide death toll is at least 78, according to the state Department of Health.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at email@example.com.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior reporter Paul Gottlieb contributed to this story.