Polk County death investigation
The winter weather is claiming more lives. The death toll in the Channel 3 viewing area now stands at three. Thirty people across Tennessee have died within the last two weeks.
Tuesday, February 24th 2015, 4:40 pm EST
Tuesday, February 24th 2015, 5:46 pm EST
Polk County deputies are investigating the death of a 79-year-old man who was found outside of his home.
Deputies said they found the body of 79-year-old Ted Prince outside of his home around 7:30 p.m. Friday night. While cold weather may have been a factor, officials said the exact cause of death has not yet been officially determined by a medical examiner.
"We received a call from a neighbor to do a well-fair check," said Sheriff Steve Ross, Polk County Sheriff's Dept. "Deputies responded and did find Mr. Prince deceased in his yard."
Investigators immediately ruled out foul play. Polk County Sheriff Steve Ross says because it's unclear how long Mr. Prince had been outside in the cold, It's hard to know for sure what happened to him.
"Anything is possible... he could have walked outside and slipped and just not been able to get back up with his age. There are all kinds of factors that can play into this. It wouldn't be fair to the family for us to speculate at this point," said Sheriff Ross.
Some family members told Channel 3 Eyewitness News that Prince was a respected mountain man with a military background. He's lived in the Copperhill community with his family, most of his life. Loved ones said he was no stranger to dangerous snow and ice storms.
"He was very loved," said Sheriff Ross. "He will be deeply missed. We are definitely praying for the family and hoping we can find closure."
TEMA officials have classified Prince's death as weather-related. Officials list him among 30 such deaths statewide. Officials say about a third of those deaths were elderly victims and/or hypothermia related.
"I want them to know to use extra caution during this cold weather, stay warm the best you can. Layer up and check up on each other," said Sheriff Ross.
If you are concerned and need the sheriff's office to check on a loved one for you, all you have to do is call and ask them.