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Published January 08, 2013, 09:06 PM

Recent hypothermia death shows dangers of any cold weather

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - One man's death is shedding light on the dangers of hypothermia, even in temperatures that may not seem too cold.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - One man's death is shedding light on the dangers of hypothermia, even in temperatures that may not seem too cold.

24-year-old Jordan Oppegard's body was found Sunday after he ran from Clay County Law Enforcement.

WDAY 6 Reporter Kay Cooley shows us how fleeing authorities, especially in wintry conditions, is never a smart decision.

Living in a region where temperatures often dip below zero, hypothermia concerns hit even before the first frost.

Kristina Hansen, Clay Co. Emergency Preparedness Coordinator: "It is unfortunate that people are out there getting exposed."

Exposure could come as soon as temperatures in the 40's and even worse: people getting exposed by choice.

Sheriff Bill Bergquist, Clay Co.: "I don't know if it's their fight or flight syndrome that just kicks in and they decide to flight."

Jordan Oppegard died of hypothermia after leading Clay County authorities on a high speed chase then escaping.

Bergquist: "Especially now, like that evening, that dark, that late at night, and it was cold temperatures."

With cold weather and damp conditions, hypothermia can happen when your body temperature, gets to about 95 degrees or below and can onset within hours or even minutes of being outside if you're not dressed appropriately.

Hansen: "If you're not having any heat source close-by, if you've been taking illicit drugs and drinking alcohol, all those play factors."

For Oppegard, authorities say alcohol did play a factor. And if you're drunk, Hansen says you most likely feel warmer than you really are, making hypothermia's onset even faster.

Hansen: "The key is having everything dry and bundle up, try to get the core temperature back up."

Because every degree lost, means more loss of body control causing symptoms like shivering, slurred speech and clumsiness.

And if you get down to 20 degrees below normal body temperature, death isn't too far off.

Bergquist: "It's just not worth it. Yeah, you might get out of something, but is it worth the price?"

Temperatures are expected to drop even lower this weekend reaching well below zero.

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