Frigid temperatures lead to death
Hypothermia is underrated danger
The first cold snap of the season caused the death of a local woman Oct. 5 in Cortez City Park.
Korena “Karen” Allen, 57, likely died from exposure after temperatures dropped to 26 degrees, said Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane.
Allen, of Cortez, was discovered lying near the water dock by park patrons.
“When we arrived she had already died,” Lane said, adding she was not dressed for cold weather. “She had been with people earlier in the day.”
Allen was known by police and was a regular visitor of the park. Lane said. She was not homeless, and lived in a apartment on Washington Street. Her family is from the Lukachukai Mountains of the Navajo Nation.
Donna Boyd, manager of the Cortez Emergency Shelter, could not reveal if Allen was a client of the facility because of confidentiality laws.
“We knew her from the community and really cared about her,” Boyd said. “She was a very sweet and polite woman. It’s a real blow.”
Her untimely death is tragic, Boyd said, and emphasizes the need for an extended season for the shelter.
“We get cold temperatures before we are able to open, so that is one of the reasons we would like to have a longer season.”
Hypothermia can set in during warmer temperatures than many people realize, Boyd said.
“In the 40s and 50s if you are wet, it can be very dangerous, life threatening,” she said.
Being aware of at-risk community members and helping them shows a compassionate citizenry, she said.
“If you see someone incapacitated for whatever reason call dispatch. If you can’t stir them, that is a 911 call.”
Boyd adds that there is often a misconception that someone is intoxicated, when really they are suffering from a diabetic attack.
“The symptoms are similar, and we have a lot of diabetics here,” Boyd said. “As a community, we need to vigilant and watch out for each other.”
The Cortez Emergency Shelter invites the public to attend an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct 13. There will be tours, information on the program, and refreshments.
The shelter opens Tuesday, Oct. 15. Hours are 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. Volunteers are needed for shifts, to conduct art classes, offer résumé and interviewing skills, and for administrative work. Call 565-9808 for more information.