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The brutal, subzero weather we've experienced thus far this winter is more than an inconvenience prompting us to shovel snow or develop cabin fever.

It's potentially deadly to many of our friends, neighbors and family members.

Just ask Dustin Bellinger, 36, who works in Hammond and lives in Wheatfield. Bellinger lost his mother the day after Christmas to a fatal cold-related incident outside of her home.

The joy of the season, and the life of 71-year-old Marian Bellinger, were cut short Dec. 26 when she slipped on a backdoor ramp, hit her head on some brickwork and froze to death outside her Wheatfield residence.

Marian Bellinger had just been trying to take out the trash.

With grief still very fresh, her son now wants his family tragedy to serve as an important reminder to fellow citizens.

The well being of friends, neighbors and family members — particularly those who are elderly, live alone or have disabilities — should be regularly monitored, especially in the brutal cold we're likely to face again this winter.

And Bellinger's warning says nothing of the need for homeless individuals or residents who lose heat in their homes to be guided to available warming shelters.

Today, we renew our reminder to be aware of various Northwest Indiana shelters and services providing emergency warmth to those who need it. Find a map of warming centers online by locating this editorial at

And don't forget to check on your friends, family and neighbors during freezing weather. It may very well save lives.

We thank Dustin Bellinger for speaking through grief, hoping his story of loss can save other lives. Now we all must act on that message.



Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.