A man covered in a blanket was found dead Tuesday on a bus bench in northeast Colorado Springs during a blizzard that whipped through Colorado’s Front Range and Eastern Plains, police said.
The man, who police said appeared to be in his 40s, was found by a friend who went to check on him just before 7:30 a.m. at the bus stop in front of Old Chicago at Austin Bluffs Parkway and North Academy Boulevard.
The man’s identity and cause of death have not been released by the El Paso County Coroner’s Office, but there were no signs of foul play, police said.
Police could not say whether the man was homeless but reiterated that he was on the bench in heavy clothing and wrapped in a blanket.
Temperatures overnight dropped to as low as 21 degrees at the Colorado Springs Airport, though gusting winds of up to 61 mph and sustained winds of 46 mph dropped wind chills to as low as 1 degree, according to Steve Hodanish, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Pueblo. The wind chill had not broken into double digits by early afternoon.
All 220 beds at the Salvation Army’s R.J. Montgomery shelter were full on Monday night, said Karen Daugherty, who oversees the facility. However, the Springs Rescue Mission — which expanded its shelter capacity in December — had space for 110 additional people on beds and sleeping pads, said Travis Williams, the nonprofit’s chief development officer.
He implored people living outside to seek the safety and warmth of the shelter at 5 W. Las Vegas St., where admission is based on behavior, not sobriety. Pets also are allowed.
“We want everybody who is finding themselves out in the cold to be seeking shelter,” Williams said. “We’ve done everything that we possibly can to remove as many barriers as possible, so that folks can find access to warm, safe, dry and reliable shelter.”
In all, about 340 people sought shelter at the Springs Rescue Mission’s campus on Monday night, Williams said. It was a sign the recent expansion was working, he said, because otherwise dozens of those people likely would have been turned away.
“We’re trying everything we can to make sure folks can get out of the cold,” he said.
The closest weather service data station to the bus stop — Woodmen Road and Interstate 25 — recorded 3 inches of snow overnight. The Colorado Springs Airport reported 1 inch.
The storm iced over roads across the county, shutting down some major highways for most of Tuesday. Mountain Metro Transit buses were delayed to an 8:30 a.m. start time. Usually, a bus stops at Academy and Austin Bluffs every 15 minutes starting at 5:52 a.m.
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