High heat suspected in deaths of three homeless this week

By: - July 20, 2018 3:37 pm
hot out there
Escaping the heat at the Salvation Army day shelter this month. Photo: Michael Lyle

Three homeless people were found dead this week near the downtown Las Vegas I-15 corridor. Though the exact cause of death is still unknown, the City of Las Vegas says “high heat recently is suspected as a contributing factor.”

“It is heartbreaking that these deaths are occurring,” said Las Vegas City Councilman Cedric Crear in a statement. “This is a community-wide problem impacting all of us in some way, whether we are homeless, business owners or taxpayers.”

The Southern Nevada Health District reports there were 123 heat-related Southern Nevada deaths altogether in 2017, up from 78 in 2016.

According to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, 176 Nevadans statewide died in 2017 due to exposure to heat. Close to 400 were hospitalized that year.

Even though this is an issue that impacts all people, health district officials say the heat poses the greatest threat to low-income households, those experiencing homelessness, seniors and young children.

The city says it’s increasing efforts to connect people experiencing homelessness to daytime shelters, which are at Salvation Army, Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and The Shade Tree. Additional cooling stations open at community centers throughout the valley when there are extreme heat warnings.  

The regular daytime shelters provide about 500 spots for people wanting to come inside out of the heat. However, the recently released 2018 Homeless Census found there were 6,083 people living in shelters or on the streets in Southern Nevada during the point-in-time count.

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.