OAK CREEK -- Oak Creek police identified the body found along the lakeshore on a public walking area near the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District facility at 5th Ave Tuesday as 22-year-old Brittany Finley from South Milwaukee.
Police say the area is open to public access, but not during the winter months. A person was trespassing on the property around 10:30 a.m. when they came across the body.
Officials say the preliminary investigation indicates the death is related to exposure/weather. Police say foul play doesn't appear to be a factor in this case. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner arrived on site at 1 p.m.
One possibility for how Finley died is hypothermia. "That's when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees. As we know, normal body temperature is about 98.6. At that time, organs shut down, the heart doesn't function as well, nor does the brain. So, the ability to regulate the body's temperature is in detriment, at that point, " Dr. Christopher Asandra, the Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Wheaton-Franciscan St. Joseph Hospital said.
Dr. Asandra says there are many factors that contribute to reaching the hypothermic state, including your age. Children and the elderly are at higher risk. Those who drink alcohol are also at higher risk. "As much as it makes you feel warm, your blood vessels do dilate, and you lose heat quicker," Dr. Asandra said.
It is unclear whether Finley had been drinking. At St. Joseph's Hospital, Dr. Asandra says they've seen very few cases of hypothermia. "The homeless are at risk as well because they are sleeping outside, and if they don't have the proper insulation or proper shelter, we have seen a couple cases of hypothermia," Dr. Asandra said.
Doctors say it is important to recognize the signs of hypothermia, like shivering, confusion and chattering teeth, and make sure that you get that person warm and dry as soon as possible.