Possible heat-related death in Mingo County

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MINGO COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Each year, nearly 660 people die from exposure to extreme heat. West Virginia State Police is sending out an extra warning after a possible heat-related death in Mingo County on Wednesday.

Troopers said the elderly man left his home near Kermit, West Virginia, to pick berries just before noon Wednesday. His body was found around 11 p.m. that same day.

Sgt. M.S. Lively told WSAZ that 76-year-old Jasper Blackburn left his home near Kermit to pick berries just before noon. His family reported him missing around 4 p.m. After hours of searching, his body was found around 11 p.m.

"With the heat and his condition, yeah, that is a good amount of time," Lively said.

Investigators do not have an official cause of death, but they said it is a possible combination of health issues and exposure to extreme heat. Lively said Blackburn was found 3 miles from home, which may have been a result of disorientation. Disorientation is a symptom of heat stroke.

"No matter what your condition is, you have to know your limitation and what you're capable of," Lively said.

Knowing your limits and understanding the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion is important for all ages, according to Lively. If you are a caretaker, he said you should keep a close eye on your loved ones.

"If they go outdoors, maybe doing something strenuous, you need to pay extra attention," he said.

WSAZ spoke to medical professionals about the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. To read that story, click here.