UPDATE: Cause of death released after body found in Iowa City - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Cause of death released after body found in Iowa City

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UPDATE: The Johnson County Medical Examiner tells us 24-year-old Paul Biagas, found dead during extreme cold earlier this month, died from hypothermia. His death is ruled as accidental. 

He was also found to have alcohol in his body during the time of his death. No further details are being released.


Iowa City police are investigating what caused a 24-year-old to die just steps away from where he worked. 

On Tuesday, at 2 p.m., the body of 24-year-old Paul J. Biagas was found outside of the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center in Iowa City. Biagas was found inside the gated area of the recreation center known as the "edible classroom," where there are gardens. No foul play is suspected in his death. Iowa City police said the gates are left unlocked to that area of garden but police believe Biagas had been there much longer than when he was found.

"Based on our investigation so far, which is pretty preliminary, we believe he was walking home from some New Year's Eve activities from downtown," Iowa City Police Lieutenant Zach Diersen said.

The recreation center is closed due to renovations and with the higher fence lines, it would have been hard for anyone to see his body. Diersen said he believed it was an employee at the center during the renovations that found him.

Earlier on the night Biagas is believed to have died, he had worked a shift at Cactus Mexican Restaurant located across the street from where his body was found.Noe Tellez, a manager at Cactus, said Biagas has worked there for a year and a half but recently quit because of a new job. He said Biagas had come in to help them during the busy New Year's Eve night.

According to Tellez, Biagas left work before the other workers after it slowed down and was fine. He had told them that he had plans to go downtown afterward to celebrate the holiday, and they say that was the last they heard and saw of him. Tellez said Biagas lived only a block away from the restaurant.

Biagas was a former student at the University of Iowa. Posts on social media that followed his death indicated that he was a member of the Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity. He was originally from Texas and has no family in the area. The Johnson County Medical Examiner's Office notified family of his death.

Police say the cause of Biagas death is unknown at this time.

"I think that you can speculate about the extreme cold weather but that's speculation only at this point," Diersen said.

Police haven't said what time Biagas was believed to have been walking home but that night temperatures were extremely cold and dangerous. That night, around 10 p.m., close to when he would have left work, temperatures were -30 degrees with windchill. At 2 a.m., when bars would have closed up for the night, temperatures had dropped even more to a brutal -38.

Diersen said it's hard to tell at this time if alcohol was a contributing factor in Biagas' death. Police are waiting on results of the autopsy and toxicology reports.

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