Mid-South heat wave claims tenth victim

According to the Shelby County Medical Examiner's office, a 70-year-old Memphis man was the latest person to fall victim to the heat wave that has held Memphis in its grip for more than a week. He was found in his home Friday.

Ginger Nolen fights emotion as she remembers her father. "He was just a sweetheart to everyone," says Nolen.

She says 70 year-old Jesse Prosser never bothered anyone.  That includes when his window unit went on the blink earlier this week.

"I've talked to him and told him I'd bring him an air conditioner this weekend," says Nolen.  "Just didn't make it," she adds.

Indications are that a lack of cool air caused Prosser's death.  This woman, his girlfriend, thought he had fallen asleep in his favorite chair.

"She thought he was asleep," says friend JoAnn Goodman.  "But he wasn't," she adds.

Turns out, he was dead, sitting just feet away from the air conditioner that was blowing hot air.

"They had to break down the door and they say the heat just knocked them down when they got it open," says neighbor Jeff Hargett.

It was still hotter inside than out as his family arrived. "So hot, you can't even hardly stand to go in there," says Nolen.

Neighbors wonder what they could have done as they watch the latest victim of the heat being wheeled away.

"He was sitting on the porch yesterday, fanning," recalls Patricia Brown.  "I didn't think nothing of it," she adds.

"I should have walked across the street and checked on him," she says.

She never thought Mr. Jesse, as he was known, would die from the heat less than 24 hours later.

"And I just hope it was peaceful," says Nolen.

She hopes her father's death is a lesson to others to check on the elderly and do whatever you can to stay cool.

Police say Jesse Prosser's girlfriend suffered heat exhaustion, but is fine now.  Meantime, we've leaned that Prosser was a driver for several Memphis auto dealers.

Co-workers were among those showing up at the house in disbelief about what happened

On Thursday, a 77-year-old Memphis woman was found dead in her home near the airport.

Though the woman's residence had an air conditioner, it was blowing hot air when her body was found.  A box fan was also in use.  Officials said the temperature inside the woman's residence was 101 degrees at the time she was found.

"She had a fan on and had a small AC unit, but it was switched to 'fan' and was only blowing out hot air," said Shelby County

The woman had no known medical conditions, but an autopsy showed signs of heart disease, Chancellor said.

Tennessee was hoping to see the sizzling temperatures ease some into the weekend.

Forecasters expected temperatures in Memphis and other parts of the Mississippi Valley on Friday to drop slightly, into the 90s, a relief from several consecutive days of triple digits.


to email Jason Miles.