February cold snap resulted in the death of at least one person experiencing homelessness in Lawrence

The entrance to the parking garage near the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St., is pictured Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015.

A period of intense cold in February resulted in the death of at least one person experiencing homelessness in Lawrence.

David Lee McKinzey, 66, died on Feb. 13, according to a public notice. The Journal-World heard reports of McKinzey’s death at the time from organizations that work with those experiencing homelessness, but did not receive the autopsy report to independently confirm his death until this week.

The report states in part that McKinzey was found by law enforcement in the parking garage next to the Lawrence Public Library and was taken to the hospital where resuscitative efforts were unsuccessful. The report found his cause of death to be hypothermia, stating that his “reported homelessness contributed to his death.”

The report notes that the day McKinzey died the high temperature was approximately 9 degrees. The Journal-World also heard reports that two other people experiencing homelessness in Lawrence may have died during the February cold snap, but because the newspaper does not have the full names of those individuals it has not been able to independently confirm those deaths.

Renee Kuhl, the former director of the Lawrence Community Shelter, said at the time that her staff described McKinzey, who had previously been a guest at the shelter, as a quiet man who didn’t say very much. Though the shelter had reduced capacity at its building in eastern Lawrence over the winter due to the coronavirus pandemic, both the shelter and the city, in coordination with the faith group Justice Matters and the Coalition for Homeless Concerns, operated shelters at several hotels in Lawrence through the winter.

Contact reporter Rochelle Valverde

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