Man's frozen body found after Ontario storm

The body of a 41-year-old man was found frozen in a field near Chatham, Ont., after he was stranded in the snowstorm that clobbered southwestern Ontario on Monday, police say.

Sarnia storm emergency ends as Hwy. 402 reopens

Lambton County officials lifted the state of emergency Thursday morning and the OPP reopened Highway 402 between London and Sarnia. The highway, as seen in this Wednesday photo, was hit hard by a snowstorm at the beginning of the week. ((Glenn Ogilvie/Canadian Press))

The body of a 41-year-old man was found frozen in a field near Chatham, Ont., after he was stranded in the snowstorm that clobbered southwestern Ontario on Monday, police say.

Chatham-Kent police found security guard Neeland Rumble's body on Tuesday, Sgt. Gary Conn told CBC News on Thursday.

The man was found in a field near Ridgetown, a community in South East Kent County. His car was about 50 metres away, stuck in a snowdrift.

Neeland Rumble, 41, was found frozen to death in Ridgetown, Ont., on Tuesday. ((Courtesy of Facebook))

His death "is being attributed to the extended exposure to extreme cold weather. Obviously, hypothermia is what unfortunately took his life," said Conn.

"We don’t know what he was doing out, being exposed to the elements, whether he was trying to render assistance or whatever the case may be. We may never know."

Rumble had been on his way to work. His body was spotted by passing motorists, said Conn.

Police are not aware of any other people who died as a result of the storm, nor have any others been reported missing, he added.

Emergency ends

Lambton County officials lifted the state of emergency Thursday morning and the OPP reopened Highway 402 between London and Sarnia.

Lambton County Warden Steve Arnold lifted the emergency measures at 8:15 a.m. ET.

"After consultation with affected municipal partners, emergency responders and municipal staff, we have determined that operations are now returning to normal after this unusual severe winter storm," said Arnold in a release.

OPP opened the westbound lane of Highway 402 between London and Sarnia at 7:30 a.m. after road crews cleared abandoned cars and snow from the roads, and warming centres have been vacated by stranded motorists who resumed their travel.

Eastbound lanes of the 402 were reopened Wednesday. 

The highway was closed Monday when snow squalls walloped the area, stranding travellers in large snow drifts — some more than 24 hours.

"We are grateful for the expertise of Lambton OPP officers and the outstanding rescue efforts contributed by the military while in the air and on the ground," said Arnold.

Area residents and businesses pulled together to shelter stranded motorists in their homes and to donate supplies to warming centres.

OPP reminded drivers to limit speed in wintry conditions and be prepared for emergencies.

Border traffic important

While the highway was closed for more than two days, the flow of trade ground to a halt. Some car plants had to shut down, and gasoline and some grocery items were in short supply.

The Bluewater Bridge in Sarnia was closed to Canada-bound traffic for two days since trucks had nowhere to go.

Garry McDonald, president of the Sarnia Chamber of Commerce, wasn't able to buy milk at his Sarnia supermarket. McDonald said the storm should reinforce the importance of ensuring border traffic flows freely.

"Mother Nature has shown us what many people have been attempting to say, that the border needs to work, the bridge needs to work. This is just a small example of how important any barrier is. We must overcome them to keep the borders open."

Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey hopes people will remember this storm and think twice in the future.

"I think this demonstrates to everyone — listen to your traffic-safety people, your OPP, and listen to your local radio stations," said Bailey. "Keep an eye on the weather, because these storms can come on very fast.

"Make sure you've always got those candles, blankets, food, water in your car, because you never know."