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Tinley Park War Vet Died Of Cold Exposure In Driveway

(File photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

(File photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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TINLEY PARK, Ill. (AP)- The body of a suburban Chicago man who served in Kosovo and Iraq as a Marine was found in the driveway of his Tinley Park home, and an autopsy showed he died of hypothermia.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office found that cold exposure and chronic alcoholism were contributing factors in the death of William Kaushagen, 36.

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The 14-year Marine veteran was a staff sergeant who worked as a recruiter, the father said. But his father said his son’s service in Iraq had changed him and he was under a lot of stress.

“These last two days have been the worst days of my life,” his father, Ralph Kaushagen, told the Southtown Star. “It’s not supposed to work out this way. It’s supposed to be the son burying the dad.”

A neighbor, Rob Bicek, found William Kaushagen’s body on the driveway on Tuesday.

“I don’t know if he slipped and fell,” Bicek said. “When I found him, one shoe was by the door and one shoe was half on. He was lying on his side, like he was cold but maybe he decided to crash out there.”

The medical examiner’s office has ruled Kaushagen’s death an accident. It was at least the fourth cold-related death in Cook County this winter, officials said.

Kaushagen was a soccer player who won a full scholarship to Virginia Military Institute, according to his father. The younger Kaushagen eventually left school and worked briefly as a bricklayer before joining the Marines.

“This just breaks my heart,” Ralph Kaushagen said. “Oh, God, he was a good kid.”

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