First East Texas Heat Death Reported

Damon Birch was just 32-years old when he died of heat strokeWednesday afternoon. The incident shook up friends and family members who considered him too healthy and young to die.

Birch was working on cars in his father's back-yard inside the Forest Grove Addition near Chandler. It's believed he passed out sometime between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. That was the only hour he was outside working alone. Birch's father splashed cold water over his son's body and called for help.

The 32-year old was transported to East Texas Medical Center, but pronounced dead a short time later. Birch's body temperature had already reached 106 degrees. Experts say anything over 104 degrees is grounds for a heat stroke.

"His death was very untimely from what I knew of him," said Rhett Simmons a friend of Damon's. "He was a fine fellow. We underestimate the power of heat. It doesn't take too much to zap a person's strength."

Doctors say heat stroke is usually more common in older patients, but they say no one is safe from the potential hazards of summer heat.

If you stay in the sun too long, especially if you work outdoors you are at greater risk. Doctors at East Texas Medical Center, however, says the human body does show signs of an impending heat stroke. If you're heading toward a heat stroke, you will experience one or all of the following: confusion or loss of judgement, fainting, very hot dry skin, a body temperature of 104 degrees and convulsions or seizures.