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Jan 9, 2014 6:24 PM by AP

2 deaths in Orleans attributed to deep freeze

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A homeless woman whose body was found inside a tent under an overpass in New Orleans has died as a result of the hard freeze that swept through the state this week.

The Orleans Parish Coroner's Office says the 58-year-old woman, found Wednesday, is the second homeless person to die of hypothermia as temperatures dipped to the low 20s. The New Orleans Advocate reports a homeless man was found dead Tuesday in the city's Central Business District.

John Gagliano, the coroner's chief investigator, said another homeless person found the woman's body. An autopsy determined the cause of death, he said. The deceased woman's name is being withheld pending notification of family.

Meanwhile, the coroner's office said Charles A. Bourgeois, 32, also died from hypothermia. His body was found near the Hilton New Orleans Riverside hotel, officials said.

Bourgeois, who mostly stayed near the vacant World Trade Center building at the foot of Canal Street, likely died late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, authorities said.

The city had activated a freeze plan to help shelter the city's homeless during the cold snap.

In Opelousas, police said cold was the likely reason that a homeless woman died after refusing a ride to a shelter. Sgt. Jody White said the body of Frances Cunha, 51, was found Monday.

Cunha had refused an offer by police to take her to a homeless shelter Sunday.

Evangeline Parish authorities also are investigating whether another woman found dead in her car Monday died as a result of the weather.

Opelousas Police Chief Perry Gallow told The Advertiser (http://bit.ly/1glHMQh ) that Veronica Jackson White, 74, had left her home over the weekend and was found dead at a recreation area near Ville Platte.

Gallow said results of an autopsy performed Wednesday were not available. "We won't know anything until that is complete, but it appears she died of exposure to the elements."

Temperatures that night fell to about 20 degrees.

He said the woman suffered from dementia and foul play is not suspected in connection with her death.

If the extreme cold proves to be a factor in her death, hers would be the second weather-related death of an Opelousas resident this week and at least the fourth in the state.

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