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A buried Region digs out of wintry mess. Four deaths reported in Lake County related to snow removal.
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A buried Region digs out of wintry mess. Four deaths reported in Lake County related to snow removal.

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HAMMOND — Small children sloppily constructed igloos and snowslides against homes on the side streets of central Hammond on Saturday only to watch their hard work later collapse.

Armed with shovels and ice scrapers, two teenage girls cleaned off their mother’s car on 170th Street and shoveled out snow from beneath her tires.

“They’re digging me out so we can all get to church tomorrow,” Traci Nixon said, smiling from her front door as her bundled-up daughters Naja, 15, and Daja, 14, scraped and shoveled in the streets.

Many people on Saturday were still digging themselves out of the wintry mess that clobbered the Region with as much as a foot of snow in less than 24 hours.

Westville in LaPorte County was hit with as much as 16 inches by the time the storm ended Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

The city of LaPorte received 11 inches, while Dyer saw 10.5 inches, Valparaiso 8 and Gary a reported 12, according to preliminary figures from the NWS.

And more snow is on the way. 

A winter weather advisory is in effect until noon Sunday, with the NWS predicting another 2 to 5 inches of snowfall across portions of Northwest Indiana.

4 people have died removing snow

At least four people have died since the start of the storm Thursday while shoveling, plowing or using snowblowers, Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey said. Their ages ranged from 51 to 72, according to Frey.

A 70-year-old Crown Point man was pronounced dead at Franciscan Health in Dyer on Saturday after he was out removing snow. A 51-year-old person from Crown point died in their home after coming inside from shoveling snow.

A 72-year-old man from South Holland and a 67-year-old Gary man died Friday from removing snow, according to Frey. 

In a news release Saturday, Frey warned people to take precautions and slow down, especially if they suffer from cardiac and/or respiratory illnesses.

Frey suggested people pace themselves, dress warm and pay attention to your body.

“And they should look to others to assist,” Frey told The Times.

Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris said he had no weather-related deaths to report, as of Saturday afternoon. The LaPorte County Coroner did not respond to a request for comment Saturday. 

Nationwide, snow shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries and as many as 100 deaths each year, according to the National Safety Council.

'Doing our jobs'

A photo of Lake Station Police Chief Dave Johnson and his Assistant Chief Jerry Baldazo shoveling an elderly resident’s home circulated on social media over the weekend. By Saturday afternoon, the photo had been shared more than 200 times and garnered at least 600 likes.

Mary Wantuck, of Lake Station, who snapped the photo, said she was proud of the Lake Station police and their hard work.

Johnson said he and Baldazo responded to a call Friday in the 4500 block of Riverpool Road from an elderly resident who was severely snowed in. That’s when Johnson, Baldazo and another neighbor picked up shovels and began digging her out.

He said the woman was worried she would be unable to leave the home in the event of a medical emergency, he said.

“We were just helping out, doing our jobs and being police officers. She had no way of doing it herself," he said. 

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North Lake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting from UIS. Contact her at lauren.cross@nwi.com or 219-933-3206.

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