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Hypothermia listed as cause of Bemidji girl's death

By Crystal Dey / Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI, Minn. – A 6-year-old Bemidji girl found dead Thursday morning died of hypothermia due to exposure to frigid conditions, according to a provisional report issued Friday by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office in St. Paul.

Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin said the family has requested that the girl’s name not be released at this time. Mastin said he expected the investigation to run into late next week.

The girl was a first-grader at Horace May Elementary School. Grief counseling was available to students Friday at the school. Jim Hess, superintendent of Bemidji Area Schools, said a memorial will likely be planned at a later date.

The girl’s body was found after Beltrami County dispatch received two calls at 6:23 a.m. Thursday, one from the victim’s mother and the other from a neighbor.

Bemidji police, along with Bemidji Ambulance, Bemidji Fire and the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, responded to the call at the Washington Avenue Apartments in southeast Bemidji.

When officers and emergency medical personnel arrived, they found the girl inside the front entrance to the apartment building. Police said she was wearing a jacket, boots, hat and mittens. She had signs of being exposed to the frigid elements and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Overnight and early morning temperatures Thursday were in the 25-below-zero range with wind chills of 40 below and colder.

The case remains under investigation while Bemidji police detectives continue to collect information, officials said Friday.

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