Heat suspected in death of Hemet man who died trying to walk home from hospital
HEMET — Officials are investigating last Saturday’s possible heat-related death of a Hemet man. The victim’s lifeless body was found in a parking lot Saturday afternoon, as valley temperatures soared into the mid-110’s over the weekend.
According to his devastated family, the father of four children – ages 7 months to 17 years – died while trying to walk less than a mile to a relative’s house after being treated for heat exhaustion and later released from Hemet Valley Hospital.
The victim only managed to walk about two-tenths of a mile before collapsing and later dying. His body was not discovered until the next afternoon.
The victim’s death was the first of three suspected heat-related deaths in Hemet over the weekend. His tragic passing happened the day before an elderly couple was found dead inside their RV at a Hemet RV park.
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Shocked and grieving family and friends later identified the victim on social media as Eddie King. They reportedly learned about King’s death within minutes of his body being discovered, after seeing a photograph of his body in a social media post on Hemet Valley Incidents, a Facebook page dedicated to providing news and information to Hemet and San Jacinto residents.
Although the victim’s face and upper body were covered by a large red and yellow beach towel, family and friends immediately recognized the distinctive towel draped across their loved one. Minutes later, family members contacted Hemet PD, even as the investigation was getting underway.
Hemet Police and Fire Departments, along with other emergency first responders were dispatched to the parking lot shortly after noon, after a person called 911 to report finding the deceased man.
When officials arrived they found King laying in the parking lot behind the Bank of Hemet. His head was resting on a curb, his shoes were off, and he appeared to be sleeping. Several drinks were nearby, but it was not immediately known if they belonged to King or had been set down by witnesses who found his body.
Officials have not speculated about what time King may have died, and are waiting on a coroner’s report to determine his cause and time of death.
One family member later explained King was rushed by ambulance to Hemet Valley Hospital after he passed out Friday, after suffering from the valley’s higher than normal heat throughout the day. Temperatures are reported to have hit 113° in Hemet over the weekend and were even higher in some of Riverside County’s desert regions.
“He was taken to Hemet Hospital where he stayed for several hours and received fluids,” the family member, who requested to not be identified, later explained. “When they released him about 10 p.m., he started to walk to his fiance’s sister’s home.”
“We think he just got tired after being out in Friday’s heat,” the grieving family member explained. “He called his fiancé on the phone and told her that he was going to rest for a bit before continuing to her sister’s house just two blocks away, near the intersection of Mayberry Ave. and San Jacinto St.”
“He found a quiet spot in a parking lot and laid down to rest,” said the family member. “Sadly, he never got up again.”
Although the victim left his fiancé’s home the previous evening after she had been threatened with an eviction notice, another family member, Lisa King, later explained on social media that her uncle had planned on staying at his fiancé’s sister’s Hemet home until a more permanent solution could be found.
Unfortunately, King’s fiancé and her sister were out of town and not able to make it home before King was rushed to the hospital after his initial heat-related sickness, Friday.
“He didn’t have a permanent solution for a home, but just to clear the air, my uncle was NOT homeless or living on the streets,” King explained after some online questioned if the victim had been homeless. “He was just waiting for his fiancé’s sister to get home Friday night or Saturday afternoon and had no place to stay until then.”
On a gofundme page created by Nicole Young – King’s fiancé and mother to his two younger children – the grieving woman described King as “a hardworking father who would give up the world for his children and give the clothes off his back to any of his friends.”
Established to help offset burial expenses and other costs, and provide diapers, baby food, and other essentials for King’s 8-month-old, as well as for the immediate needs of his and Young’s other child, the fundraising page had raised $520 during its first two days.
Many of the victim’s friends and family, as well as countless area residents are now asking how the hospital saw fit to release the victim, considering his eventual death just a few minutes walking distance from their facility.
As of this report, a request for information has not yet been responded to.
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Trevor Montgomery, 47, recently moved to Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta County.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 – soon to be 15 – grandchildren.