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4th Chicago death attributed to bitter cold snap

Cook County Medical Examiner's Office | Sun-Times file photo

A fourth Chicagoan’s death has been attributed to the bitter cold snap that brought the area to a standstill last week.

And a suburban woman died of cold exposure early Friday — shortly after the polar vortex system left the Chicago area — in Glenview, bringing the number of cold-related deaths in Cook County up to 25 since the start of the season.

Barbara Sromek, 66, of the 3200 block of North Page Avenue, was pronounced about 1:20 p.m. Wednesday in Belmont Terrace on the Northwest Side. An autopsy on Saturday found she died of environmental cold exposure, with cardiovascular disease and hypothermia serving as contributing factors.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office also reported Saturday that 72-year-old Adair Gerstein, of the 3900 block of Lizette Lane in Glenview; died at 7:44 a.m. Friday of complications of hypothermia and cold exposure. Cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and pulmonary disease were also contributing.

Both deaths were ruled accidents.

Authorities previously reported the deaths of three additional Chicagoans from cold-related causes during the streak that saw windchill values plummet more than 50 degrees below zero.

Between Tuesday morning and Thursday morning, Illinois hospitals treated 144 patients for cold-related symptoms like hypothermia and frostbite, according to Illinois Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold.

Last fall and winter, 47 deaths were found to be at least partially cold-related between Oct. 1, 2017, and April 1, 2018, according to the medical examine’s office. More than 250 people have died of cold-related causes in Cook County since 2006.