Iowa student dies after being found unconscious outside in minus 51 degree wind chills

An 18-year-old University of Iowa student died after he was found unresponsive outside of a campus building in wind chills as frigid as 51 degrees Fahrenheit below zero.

Gerald Belz, a second-year pre-medicine major from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was found by campus police near Halsey Hall at about 2:48 a.m. on Wednesday morning, a six-minute walk from his residence at Burge Hall, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reports.

The unconscious teen was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. Investigators have not yet released Belz's official cause of death but believe it was weather-related. Foul play is not suspected.


Photo: Handout

The teen's father, Michael Belz, told KCRG that doctors confirmed no traces of alcohol were found in his son's system at the time of his death. He also told the station his son was communicating with his girlfriend via Snapchat late on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and had indicated he was going to bed.

The outdoor air temperature was 22 degrees Fahrenheit below zero with a wind chill of 51 degrees below zero at the time the student was found, the Press-Citizen reports. A wind chill of just minus 25 can freeze skin within 15 minutes.

The National Weather Service in Des Moines, Iowa, said on Tuesday that "this is the coldest air many of us will have ever experienced" and warned that those who go outside should "avoid taking deep breaths, and minimize talking" to protect themselves.

Belz's death is the eighth fatality across multiple states linked to the bitterly cold weather in the Midwest this week.

RELATED: Photos from the polar vortex gripping the U.S. Midwest, Northeast: 

21 PHOTOS
Photos from the polar vortex gripping the U.S. Midwest, Northeast
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Photos from the polar vortex gripping the U.S. Midwest, Northeast
A harbor light is covered by snow and ice on the Lake Michigan at 39th Street Harbor, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, in Chicago. A deadly arctic deep freeze enveloped the Midwest with record-breaking temperatures on Wednesday, triggering widespread closures of schools and businesses, and prompting the U.S. Postal Service to take the rare step of suspending mail delivery to a wide swath of the region. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Ice forms along the shore of Lake Michigan at the Lighthouse Park in Evanston, Ill., Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. A deadly arctic deep freeze enveloped the Midwest with record-breaking temperatures on Wednesday, triggering widespread closures of schools and businesses, and prompting the U.S. Postal Service to take the rare step of suspending mail delivery to a wide swath of the region. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
CHICAGO, Feb. 1, 2019-- Geese are seen in Lake Michigan in Chicago, the United States, Jan. 31, 2019. Chicago, the biggest city in the U.S. Midwest, was struck by the polar vortex with the minimum temperature reaching minus 30 degrees Celsius in the city. (Xinhua/Wang Ping) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 31: Ice builds up along the shore of Lake Michigan as temperatures during the past two days have dipped to lows around -20 degrees on January 31, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Businesses and schools have closed, Amtrak has suspended service into the city, more than a thousand flights have been cancelled and mail delivery has been suspended as the city copes with record-setting low temperatures. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Pedestrians pass a frozen water fountain at Bryant Park Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, in New York. The polar vortex that brought many cities to a standstill was expected to come to a swift end with a rapid thaw that experts say could be unprecedented. But the sudden swing from long johns to short sleeves could create problems of its own. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
NEW YORK, Jan. 31, 2019 -- People take pictures in front of a frozen fountain in Bryant Park in New York, the United States, Jan. 31, 2019. The freezing weather caused by the polar vortex in the midwest United States has expanded to New York since Wednesday with snowfalls and strong wind gusts, sending temperatures to the single digits Fahrenheit, or below -12 degrees Celsius. (Xinhua/Wang Ying) (Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, Jan. 31, 2019 -- People take pictures in front of a frozen fountain in Bryant Park in New York, the United States, Jan. 31, 2019. The freezing weather caused by the polar vortex in the midwest United States has expanded to New York since Wednesday with snowfalls and strong wind gusts, sending temperatures to the single digits Fahrenheit, or below -12 degrees Celsius. (Xinhua/Wang Ying) (Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images)
Ice and water flows over the American Falls, seen from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press via AP)
TOPSHOT - A view of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls as steam rises from the falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada on January 31, 2019. - A brutal cold wave moved eastward on January 31, 2019, after bringing temperatures in the US Midwest lower than those in Antarctica, grounding flights, closing schools and businesses and raising fears of hypothermia. (Photo by Lars Hagberg / AFP) (Photo credit should read LARS HAGBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A tree is covered in ice from the mist at park beside the falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, on January 31, 2019. - A brutal cold wave moved eastward on January 31, 2019, after bringing temperatures in the US Midwest lower than those in Antarctica, grounding flights, closing schools and businesses and raising fears of hypothermia. (Photo by Lars Hagberg / AFP) (Photo credit should read LARS HAGBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Ice and water flows over the American Falls, viewed from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press via AP)
A view of the ice covered American falls seen from in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, on January 31, 2019. - A brutal cold wave moved eastward on January 31, 2019, after bringing temperatures in the US Midwest lower than those in Antarctica, grounding flights, closing schools and businesses and raising fears of hypothermia. (Photo by Lars Hagberg / AFP) (Photo credit should read LARS HAGBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Ice and water flows over the brink of the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press via AP)
The marsh around Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts remains frozen January 31, 2019 on a day where over 2000 flights were cancelled and delayed due to extreme cold and ice conditions caused by the Polar Vortex over the midwest and northern parts of North America. - A brutal cold wave moved eastward Thursday after bringing temperatures in the US Midwest lower than those in Antarctica, grounding flights, closing schools and businesses and raising fears of hypothermia. The extreme weather has now been blamed for as many as eight deaths, US news outlets reported. (Photo by Joseph PREZIOSO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images)
The marsh around Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts remains frozen January 31, 2019 on a day where over 2000 flights were cancelled and delayed due to extreme cold and ice conditions caused by the Polar Vortex over the midwest and northern parts of North America. - A brutal cold wave moved eastward Thursday after bringing temperatures in the US Midwest lower than those in Antarctica, grounding flights, closing schools and businesses and raising fears of hypothermia. The extreme weather has now been blamed for as many as eight deaths, US news outlets reported. (Photo by Joseph PREZIOSO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images)
Ice flows fill the Merrimack River as it heads towards the Atlantic Ocean in Newburyport, Massachusetts during the extreme cold temperatures caused by the Polar Vortex, bringing temperatures below freezing, on January 31, 2019. - A brutal cold wave moved eastward Thursday after bringing temperatures in the US Midwest lower than those in Antarctica, grounding flights, closing schools and businesses and raising fears of hypothermia. The extreme weather has now been blamed for as many as eight deaths, US news outlets reported. (Photo by Joseph PREZIOSO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images)
Sunrise taken during the polar vortex looking towards Central Avenue Bridge, Minneapolis, Minnesota, America
In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, photo, Vicki Blake clears snow from an awning on Dairy Queen while his dog Wrigley stands by in Dubuque, Iowa. (Jessica Reilly/Telegraph Herald via AP)
A view of the ice covered shoreline of Lake Erie with the Cleveland skyline in the background during a polar vortex in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
Plants are seen covered with ice at Lake Erie during during a polar vortex in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
A view of the power plant and frozen Lake Erie from the Miller Road Park pier during single digit temperatures in Avon Lake, Ohio, U.S., January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
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