The recent blizzard that hit Western New York has resulted in a total of 47 deaths, with 46 of them being reported in Erie County alone, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. The three most recent deaths were confirmed by the county’s Department of Health and were caused by delayed emergency medical services (EMS) response during cardiac events. The first death was reported on Christmas Eve in Cheektowaga, the second on Christmas in Amherst and the third on December 27th in Buffalo.
Poloncarz provided detailed information on the demographics and causes of death of the victims. 18 people were found outside in the snow, 12 deaths were caused by a lack of power or heat, 7 deaths were due to delayed EMS response, 4 people were found in vehicles, 4 people died from snow-blowing or shoveling-related incidents, and a 3-year-old girl drowned in a hotel pool after her family stayed there due to a loss of power during the storm.
Of the victims, 25 were Black, 20 were white and one was Hispanic. 35 of the deaths occurred in Buffalo and 11 in the suburbs. The victims were also broken down by gender, with 26 being male and 20 female.
In addition to the deaths in Erie County, one death was reported in Niagara County, where a 27-year-old man died after his furnace was buried in snow, sending carbon monoxide into his Lockport home.
Poloncarz stated that there are three more blizzard-related cases that are yet to be finalized by the medical examiner. The storm, which began on December 22nd, caused widespread power outages, road closures and travel bans. The extreme weather conditions and the lack of preparedness have been criticized by many, and the death toll continues to rise. The county executive has urged residents to take precautions and prepare for future extreme weather conditions to avoid such tragic loss of life.
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