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Cook County’s 5th cold-related death confirmed this season

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Cold weather has contributed to the deaths of at least five people this season in Cook County, according to autopsy results.

The most recent cold-related death happened Sunday afternoon, when 54-year-old Justin Prekwas died at 4:34 p.m. at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, according the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He lived in the 400 block of North Lombard Avenue in the western suburb.

An autopsy Monday found Prekwas died of chronic ethanolism, with cold exposure listed as a contributing factor.

The fourth cold-related death happened Dec. 18 on Chicago’s North Side, as 90-year-old Thaddeus B. Kowalewski died at Saint Joseph Hospital of heart disease, with hypothermia contributing, authorities said. He lived in the 3400 block of North Lake Shore Drive.

At least three more people have died in the cold since Oct. 26, according to the medical examiner’s office. Last winter, 15 cold-related deaths were reported in Cook County.