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Duluth man likely died of exposure

Duluth bar

A Duluth man apparently left the Copasetic Bar on Central Entrance sometime early Sunday morning, walked a few feet into an empty parking lot and then fell or lay down and froze to death.

Duluth police said the man's body was found about 9 a.m. Sunday.

The victim was white and in his early 20s, Duluth police Sgt. Leigh Wright said. His name will be released today after all family members have been notified.

Temperatures in Duluth dropped to 17 below zero early Sunday, with the wind chill colder than 30 below.

Police earlier Sunday reported the death as "suspicious'' but then later recanted that news release.

"We're going to wait for the report from the medical examiner. But we now think it was an accidental death from exposure,'' Wright said. "He appeared to have been dead for some time when we arrived.''

Emergency medical personnel responded to a man down in a parking lot at a vacant commercial building at 326 E. Central Entrance -- the former Pro Print/First Photo building -- just before 9 a.m., where they found the man dead.

"We know he was in the bar earlier and we believe that alcohol may have been a factor,'' Wright said. "We don't know how or why he ended up alone in that parking lot. He didn't have a vehicle at the bar. ... We may never know.''

"Unfortunately, when you drink, you can make bad decisions,'' she added. "And when it gets that cold overnight, it doesn't take long to die in the cold. People really need to take extra precautions in weather like that.''

Investigators from the department's violent crimes and crime scene investigation units responded along with the medical examiner's office. An autopsy has been scheduled to determine the cause of death.

It's the second death in recent weeks in the Northland due to exposure. A 51-year-old Hayward man froze to death Jan. 13 after an apparent sleepwalking episode. Timothy P. Brueggeman had a history of sleepwalking and was found in an empty lot less than 200 feet from his home.