Philly man with cerebral palsy freezes to death during polar vortex

Philly man with cerebral palsy freezes to death during polar vortex

During last week’s brutally cold temperatures, a man with cerebral palsy somehow lost his way and froze to death on his way to work.

Gerald Fomalont, 60, of the 9900 block of Bustleton Avenue, was reported missing by police on Jan. 31.

Fomalont’s body was found on Saturday, Feb. 2, and positively identified on Feb. 4, police announced.

The Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s office confirmed Tuesday that Fomalont’s death “was caused by hypertensive cardiovascular disease with a contributing factor of environmental hypothermia,” a Health Department spokesman confirmed.  “This death was ruled accidental.”

Fomalont was described in the police missing-persons bulletin as having “diminished mental capacity and cerebral palsy.”

But Fomalont did have a job, which is where he was headed when he was last seen around 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 30 – so far the coldest day of the year in Philly due to a national polar vortex. Temps fell from the 30s midday to single digits by nightfall, with wind chill that made it feel even colder, estimated at around negative 10 degrees.

Fomalont “left his residence to go to work and did not return as usual,” police said, at which point his family reported him missing.

Philly police in the 7th District were contacted around 2:48 p.m. on Saturday with reports of a discovered body on the 11300 block of Northeast Avenue in Somerton, just over a mile northeast from Fomalont’s residence. He was found near train tracks. No signs of trauma were reported. According to 6ABC, investigators suspect Fomalont may have been headed toward Roosevelt Boulevard to catch a SEPTA bus, but never made it.

No further details were immediately available. It is unclear if Fomalont walked, got lost, or had ridden SEPTA on his way to work that day. The Philly Medical Examiner’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the cause or manner of death.