People stand in the shade of the Marion Street Bridge in Wallace Marine Park while others cool off in the Willamette River on Saturday, June 26, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
At least a dozen people in Marion and Polk counties are believed to have died from heat-related causes as the region saw record-breaking temperatures early this week, most of them unsheltered or without air conditioning.
The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office on Thursday released a list of suspected heat-related deaths across the state, which now includes 79 Oregonians. A 38-year-old Polk County man was added to the list.
That’s up from 63 suspected heat-related deaths reported statewide Wednesday.
In a statement, the Marion County Medical Examiner's Office said they're investigating 11 deaths suspected to be heat-related, all men, ranging in age from 37 to 74. Nine Marion County residents are included in the state's total.
"In all cases, further testing is needed due to multiple complicating comorbid factors such as substance use and underlying medical conditions. In many cases these decedents were unhoused or in environments with no air conditioning available to them," the statement said.
Police separately reported two deaths of unsheltered people in Salem during the heat wave, but could not confirm causes of death or whether they were included in state or local counts of heat-related deaths.
Salem police reported 38-year-old Derek Bayless was found dead in Wallace Marine Park, which is in Polk County, on June 30.
Lt. Treven Upkes, Salem police spokesman, said police couldn’t confirm Bayless was the same person who was on the state medical examiner’s list, because it only gave information on county, gender and age.
On Monday around 8 p.m., Oregon State Police responded to a report of a man found unresponsive in a tent under the Market Street overpass near Interstate 5 in Salem. Police haven’t released his name and said they're waiting until relatives have been notified.
The county medical examiner's office said their count included 7 deaths in Salem, 2 deaths in Keizer, and 2 deaths in Woodburn.
The office did not include suspected drownings in its total of heat-related deaths. A 37-year-old Salem man, Nasiruddin Shaik, was found dead in the Willamette River Wednesday after going missing while swimming over the weekend.
-Rachel Alexander and Saphara Harrell