Harris County confirms its first heat-related death

August 12, 2011 1:49:10 AM PDT
Harris County confirmed its first heat death of the year.

Workers say the landscaper had been working at his job for only two days before his tragic death.

It was the extreme heat that investigators say lead to Charles Lewis Griffin's death. The 33-year-old landscaper was on a job site with Central Landscape and Maintenance when workers say he fell to the ground sick last week.

"Well it's been awfully hot out here, and I've been seeing the guys working everyday," neighbor Ramona Waire said.

Waire lives next door to Griffin's job. Workers there tell Eyewitness News Griffin took several breaks and had lunch before he collapsed, and the crew called 9-1-1.

"Well being out there in that heat all day, it will do it to you. I mean especially when you are going to work at 8 in the morning and get off at 10:30 at night," Waire said.

Griffin died of hyperthermia. The medical examiner says his body temperature elevated to 108 degrees.

"You just got to be more aware of this weather. It's nothing to play with," landscaper Alonzo Davis said.

Griffin in the first confirmed heat-related death in Harris County this season. But police believe heat also played a part in the deaths of two women found in a house on the southeast side last Saturday. That investigation is still pending.

Davis says he'll be taking extra steps for safety while working in the heat.

"When you are out there in this heat, you go to take more frequent breaks, put on a long-sleeved shirt and you take your towel and wet it around your neck," Davis said.

Since the tragedy, the landscaping company has made some changes. The crews are taking safety classes and must take mandatory water breaks during their shifts.

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