Pensioner dies after fall in snow

06 December 2010

THE wintry weather claimed another victim yesterday when a pensioner died while clearing snow outside his North-East home.

The tragedy comes only two days after The Northern Echo launched its Winter Relief Appeal, which aims to help the County Durham Community Foundation raise £250,000 to distribute to charities that help vulnerable people in the cold weather.

Although it is not yet known how the 65-year-old Darlington man died, his body was found on snow-covered ground at the back of his house by a neighbour at about 11.25am yesterday.

Detectives and crime scene investigators, who visited the house in the north of the town, have ruled out foul play and are not treating the death as suspicious.

Police believe the man, who has not yet been named, was trying to clear snow from an enclosed area to the rear of his property when he slipped and fell, hitting his head.

It is thought he remained there overnight before his body was discovered.

The cause of death will be determined by a post-mortem examination.

Police have said the man, who lived alone, had family living locally.

Inspector Mark Hall said: “We believe this man died because of the cold weather. We think he had gone out to clear a pathway through the snow, had slipped and fallen over, banging his head. He was found the following morning.”

The Arctic conditions, which began ten days ago, show no sign of abating and have already claimed a number of lives, with two people found dead after falling outside their homes and several people hurt or seriously injured in traffic accidents.

Insp Hall said the incident was a reminder that people needed to take extra care in the treacherous conditions.

“People need to be extra careful in this weather. It is very easy to get into difficulties,”

he said.

“I would also ask friends, relatives and neighbours to check on older or vulnerable people regularly to make sure they are coping well.”

The County Durham Community Foundation said the incident highlighted how vulnerable elderly people could be in the cold weather.

Spokeswoman Barbara Gubbins said: “This is very sad news. I think it shows how vulnerable older people can be, particularly in this weather.

“It is very easy to slip and fall, and the older you get, the more brittle your bones become, and often it is harder for people to get up.”

The foundation has started a Winter Relief fund and is hoping people will donate part or all of their £250 winter fuel allowance.

The money will be distributed to charities helping homeless people and the elderly.

Ms Gubbins said: “We hope our campaign can help charities to help vulnerable people during the winter months.”