Cold Weather Turns Deadly As Man Apparently Freezes To Death - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Cold Weather Turns Deadly As Man Apparently Freezes To Death At Seneca Lake

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A man found dead on the frozen surface of Seneca Lake is believed to have frozen to death.

Officials are ruling out foul play, and they believe it was a tragic mistake in judgment at a deadly time of year.

They say the dead man was 55 years old, and he reportedly liked to walk on the frozen surface of the lake.

His mother told the authorities he went out for a lake walk at 5 p.m. Monday and still wasn't back hours later.

His brother started to search, and found him dead on the icy surface of Seneca Lake at 11:30 p.m.

Guernsey County Sheriff's Captain Jeff Paden says the man was lying on solid ice, but his pant legs were wet from the knees down, indicating that he might have broken through the ice at some point.

Captain Paden said there are no signs of violence or trauma, and the coroner believes the cause of death was hypothermia.

The man's family says it was not unusual for him to take long walks on the frozen lake.

Park officials don't recommend that.

"We would advise against that completely," said Darrin Lautenschleger of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. "While it's not illegal to access the lake and the ice during winter months, the conservancy district does not advise or encourage it at all. There's a lot of danger that may be lurking there."

Mike Billings, also of Senecaville and also an outdoorsman, says it was just too dangerous.

"When it gets dark, if you're out on the ice, you don't know which way's north, which way's south, and he might have lost his bearings," he said.

Officials say when he was found, the actual air temperature was 7 below zero, and the wind chill factor was 20 below.

The Guernsey County Sheriff's Department continues to investigate.

The body has been taken to a funeral home.

Park officials say it's a tragedy.

"The Conservancy District certainly sends its condolences to the family," Lautenschleger said. "And our staff, especially our lake rangers and our staff at Seneca Lake Park, will assist the Guernsey County Sheriff's Department in any way possible."