University of Iowa Student Dies After Being Found Outside During Polar Vortex

Gerald Belz.
Gerald Belz. Photo: @CRKFootball/Twitter

An 18-year-old student at the University of Iowa is among those who have lost their lives during the brutal Polar Vortex.

On early Wednesday morning, just before 3 a.m., university police found pre-med student Gerald Belz a short walk from his dorm room, where he had lost consciousness in sub-zero temperatures. Though he was quickly transported to a hospital, per a spokesperson for the University of Iowa, he was later pronounced dead.

A specific cause of death has not yet been reported, University of Iowa police believe it was weather-related, as the brutally cold temperatures have claimed the lives of at least seven other people, the New York Times reports. When police found Belz, the wind chill in Iowa City was -51 degrees Fahrenheit — colder than Antarctica at the same time.

Following the devastating news of his son’s death, Michael Belz described his son to KCRG as “a momma’s boy with a tough exterior.” He also shut down preemptive speculation about inebriation, saying that no alcohol was found in his son’s system. (Per the Daily Iowan, Belz had been Snapchatting with his girlfriend on Tuesday night before he told her that he was going to bed.)

“I want people to remember him as a compassionate person,” Belz’s father told KCRG. “He had many more friends than I was aware of.”

The University of Iowa, which canceled classes on Thursday, also mourned Belz’s death on Twitter with a list of resources for students seeking counseling or crisis support.

“Losing a fellow student and member of our university family is difficult,” the university tweeted. “We encourage our students to reach out if they are in need of support.”

Iowa Student Dies After Being Found Outside in Polar Vortex