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A man whose body was found Sunday morning in Fort Smith died of hypothermia, according to the Fort Smith Police Department.

It was Arkansas' first confirmed weather-related fatality of the winter.

The body of Josh Underwood, 48, was found about 10:30 a.m. on New Year's Eve outside a Supercuts hair salon on Zero Street, said Cpl. Anthony Rice, a spokesman for the police department.

According to the state medical examiner's office, Underwood died of "extreme hypothermia due to the elements," Rice wrote in a news release Thursday.

Initially described as a suspicious death, it's now being considered accidental, Rice said.

Rice said Underwood was seen about five hours earlier a short distance away at a convenience store at 31st and Zero streets. Rice said Underwood was wearing a sport coat, jeans and boots when he was found by a beautician Sunday morning.

"The guy fell right there and unfortunately died of hypothermia," Rice said.

Rice said he didn't have a toxicology report from the medical examiner's office as of Thursday.

It was 24 degrees at 10:30 a.m. Sunday in Fort Smith, said Pete Snyder, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tulsa.

Five hours earlier, the temperature in Fort Smith was 29 degrees and a light snow was beginning to fall, he said. The snow wasn't enough to cause any accumulation. Snyder said there was a trace of freezing rain earlier Sunday morning.

Fort Smith police are looking for a man who was also in the convenience store at 5:30 a.m. Sunday and was captured on video. He was wearing a light blue Superman T-shirt and a black baseball cap. Police believe he may be a witness who could provide information about Underwood's whereabouts that morning.

Rice said Underwood left his vehicle 5 miles away on Garrison Avenue and took a cab to the area where he was found. Rice said there are several bars and restaurants in the area.

According to his Facebook page, Underwood left a review Saturday afternoon for a restaurant called Stonehouse at Chaffee Crossing.

"Amazing environment, people, service -- not to mention the gourmet food," he wrote.

Arctic air plunged Arkansas into a deep freeze over the New Year's weekend before the front moved across the eastern United States.

Record lows were set for New Year's Day with 6 degrees in Batesville and 9 degrees in North Little Rock. Temperatures struggled to get into the mid-20s that day, with record-low maximum temperatures reported in Batesville, Hot Springs, Jacksonville, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Stuttgart.

The cold was blamed for at least a dozen deaths across the country within a week. After freezing in the South, the front produced a storm that meteorologists are calling a "bomb cyclone," which carried snow and frigid conditions to the Northeast on Thursday.

Metro on 01/05/2018

Print Headline: Man froze to death, Fort Smith police say

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