Man who died from cold-related causes identified

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - The body of a person who died from cold-related causes earlier this month has been identified as a Chicago Ridge man.

Stephen A. Matara, 58, of the 10600 block of Southwest Highway in Chicago Ridge, was pronounced dead at 7:09 a.m. Dec. 15 in the 4400 block of West 95th Street in Oak Lawn, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. An autopsy found he died of hypothermia and cold exposure. Heart disease was listed as a contributing factor, and his death was ruled an accident.

Cold weather has contributed to the deaths of at least five people this season in Cook County, according to autopsy results.

The most recent cold-related death happened Sunday afternoon, when 54-year-old Justin Prekwas died at 4:34 p.m. at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, according to the medical examiner’s office. He lived in the 400 block of North Lombard Avenue in the western suburb.

An autopsy Monday found Prekwas died of chronic ethanolism, with cold exposure listed as a contributing factor.

At least three more people have died in the cold since Oct. 26, according to the medical examiner’s office. Last winter, 15 cold-related deaths were reported in Cook County.

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