The first identified victim of the suffocating heat that hit Oregon was a construction worker found in a trailer where temperatures reached 130 degrees, according to Umatilla County coroners.
James H. Anfeldt, 47, was unavailable in his trailer at Panelview RV Park in Hermiston at around 6:30 p.m. last Thursday, said Dr. Aimee Rogers.
Anfeldt was among the 79 heat-related deaths reported by the Oregon Medical Examiner’s Office to date.
He likely died the night before he was found, Rogers said. His 6-year-old son was in the trailer at the time, thinking his father was sleeping all day, she said. At some point the child looked for help from a neighbor.
“He couldn’t wake his father,” said Rogers.
The police found Anfeldt on the floor of the trailer. Rogers said the boy was drenched in sweat from the temperature in the house.
She said the trailer was neat and didn’t show anything else that caused Anfeldt’s death.
“He was just in a trailer with no air conditioning,” she said.
Anfeldt had high blood pressure, a condition that made him prone to the heat, Rogers said. The cause of death was external hyperthermia, she said.
Rogers said the man had “worked all day on a construction project in Pendleton and was already dehydrated and goes to sleep without air conditioning and pretty much collapses on the way to the bathroom”.
Anfeldt’s wife, Carrie, was puzzled by the official declaration of her husband’s death. She said the trailer was air conditioned and it did not put her son in dangerously hot conditions.
She also denied that Anfeldt worked in Umatilla County. She said she and her husband were separated and that he had only been living in Hermiston for two weeks and had looked after her son that day.
âThey had a very special bond,â she said.
Anfeldt’s former wife, Sarah Anfeldt, said he was from Washington and had five children.