First weather-related death confirmed for February winter storm

    Man slips on ice, strikes head on ground

    Icicles hang from a mailbox at a home in Ponchatoula Monday afternoon as a winter storm brought freezing temperatures to the Deep South on Feb. 15, 2021. (Photo by Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator).

    State authorities confirmed a weather-related death Monday after a 50-year-old Lafayette man died when he slipped on ice and struck his head on the ground.

    The Lafayette Parish Coroner ruled the death as weather-related, marking the first such incident of the winter storm that swept across Louisiana and a large swath of the Deep South on Monday, according to a Louisiana Department of Health press release.

    The storm brought snow, sleet and frozen rain to South Louisiana and below-freezing temperatures as far south as Buras for much of the day and temperatures into the teens for areas on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain.

    Many areas are experiencing power outages due to ice accumulating on power lines and electrical equipment. Entergy of Louisiana reported an estimated 60,000 customers without electricity as of noon, with the Greater Baton Rouge and Tangipahoa Parish areas being hit the hardest. 

    A storm team of 1,900 people, including utility line workers, tree trimmers and support personnel, are assessing the damage and restoring power where it is safe to do so. The company said in a news release: “Road closures due to icy conditions and other accessibility challenges will hamper our ability to reach some areas and slow restoration in those communities.” 

    Even colder temperatures are expected to follow Monday’s storm throughout the week. Gov. John Bel Edwards said the “winter weather event” should end by Friday. 

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    Wesley Muller
    Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the following 22 years since then, he has worked as a journalist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. Much of his work has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and watchdog coverage of municipal and state government. He has received several honors and recognitions, including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus, a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper, and an adjunct English teacher at Baton Rouge Community College. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his teenage son and his wife, who is also a journalist.