Coroner: Triple-digit heat killed postman in Independence - KCTV5


Coroner: Triple-digit heat killed postman in Independence

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A Kansas City area mail carrier who collapsed while working in triple-digit heat died of heat-related causes.

The Jackson County medical examiner says John Watzlawick died of heat-related illness in July. The death report says Watzlawick had a body temperature of 108 degrees when he arrived at an Independence hospital's emergency room on July 24. The medical examiner also said a heart attack was a secondary cause of death.

Watzlawick's wife, Kay, told The Kansas City Star, KCTV5's reporting partner, that her 55-year-old husband was feeling ill with the heat since the day before, and was refused permission to end his route early. He had been off the previous week as he recovered from surgery. She said he denied the sick day because of this.

He was also required to work mandatory overtime.

"This should not have happened," an emotional Kay told KCTV5's Heather Staggers Thursday. "They don't care about those carriers. They sit behind a desk in an air-conditioned room and in the heat in the wintertime. they don't fight the dogs on the route or traffic on Noland Road.

Postal spokesman Richard Watkins said he couldn't discuss the case but said letter carriers are reminded to take precautions in the heat, like taking breaks when needed.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Postal Service are investigating along with the National Association of Letter Carrier's Union.

A spokesman for the union said a grievance has been filed. The federal government has no provisions for extreme weather conditions and carriers are accustomed to working outdoors.

Watzlawick collapsed during an unprecedented heat wave.

A memorial will be held for him Sunday at 2 p.m. at Lobb Cemetery in Blue Springs.

To read previous coverage, click here.

To read the Kansas City Star's report, click here.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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