Mother of University of Iowa Student Who Died in Freezing Temps Sues

The mother of an 18-year-old University of Iowa student who froze to death in January 2019 is suing the school for negligence.

Michael Belz, of Cedar Rapids, was caught outside of his residence hall on the night of Jan. 29, 2019, when wind chills in Iowa City were 51 degrees below zero. He was found unresponsive the next day and his death was ruled an accident, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed Wednesday contends the university locked all the entrances to Burge Hall, where Belz lived, without warning residents they would need a student ID to get in. It also says the school should have posted people at the entrances to help anyone trying to enter.

The lawsuit claims the university contributed to Belz’s death by changing its normal practices. Interior doors at Burge Hall are locked and require an ID but exterior doors usually are unlocked at all times, allowing people access to a heated vestibule.

According to the lawsuit, surveillance video showed Belz knocking on one of the residence hall’s entrances about 1:09 a.m. on Jan. 30, 2019, unable to get anyone’s attention to let him in.

University spokesperson Hayley Bruce declined to comment on the pending litigation.