The crew searched Flagstaff the day after two unsheltered men were found dead earlier that morning in the Flagstaff community, one near the Giant gas station on Milton Road and the other at Bushmaster Park in a bathroom. The Flagstaff Police Department identified the men who died as 61-year-old Timothy Begay and 39-year-old Ferris Poleahla.
On Monday night and Tuesday morning, temperatures hovered around 20 degrees at the Flagstaff Airport, and 45 mph wind gusts made the wind chill drop as low as 3 degrees. That same night, Calgas stayed awake inside of a local all-night diner to survive rather than sleeping in the freezing cold.
Although at first the two incidents were publicized as likely exposure related deaths, the shelter is uncertain whether Poleahla died due to exposure. Altenbaugh said their records show he spent the night at the shelter and left on his own at 6:35 a.m.
At that time, temperatures were still in the 20s and felt like single digits in the wind. Poleahla was found at 11 a.m.
“This was a client that we knew,” Altenbaugh said. “We’re mourning him.”
Charles Hernandez, spokesman for the Flagstaff Police Department, said determining the cause of death goes beyond their officers’ expertise.
“The [Coconino County Medical Examiner] will determine the manner of death and what caused the death. Based on our observations — not being medical professionals — we can’t determine what caused the deaths,” Hernandez said. “We can look at factors that contribute to our investigation, but we’re waiting on the medical examiner’s report.”