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UI student dies after being found outside in subzero temps

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — A first-year University of Iowa student has died after being found outside. His death has led to questions about what happened as an investigation continues.

Temperatures felt like 50 degrees below in Iowa City when University of Iowa police discovered 18-year-old Gerald Belz, of Cedar Rapids, lying unresponsive behind Halsey Hall just before 3 a.m. on Wednesday.

Belz was taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics where he later died. The official cause of death has not been determined but the weather is believed to be a factor in the death.

“We are saddened to share we’ve lost a member of the Hawkeye family. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and loved ones,” the university said, in a release.

The cold had led the university to previously cancel classes through Thursday.

The 18-year-old was a first-year student at the university and a recent graduate of Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School.

With questions circulating about what led him there, Belz’s father, Michael Belz, said doctors at the ER told him alcohol was not in his son’s system.

His father said social media comments that pinned Gerald’s death on being alcohol-related prompted him to speak out about his son’s death.

” Commenting that he must have been out on dollar drink night somewhere,” he said. “We just want to stress that this was not alcohol-related. There are still questions that need to be answered and those answers will be coming in due time.”

According to officials, no foul play is suspected but the investigation is ongoing. Belz said the moments leading up to his son’s death are puzzling.

“I know some things that I’m not making public right now that really don’t make sense to me or the rest of his family concerning the circumstances of his passing,” he said.

Belz said Gerald had messaged his girlfriend around 12:30 a.m. that morning that he was going to bed. Earlier, he told her that he had no plans to go out.

“He replied that it was too cold,” his father said.

The last time he was active on social media was at one in the morning, Belz said.

Halsey Hall is located across the street from the Iowa Memorial Union, a 24-hour campus building. Belz lived in the Burge Residence Hall.

While the family waits for answers and grieves their son, Belz remembers his son for his compassion and dreams.

“[He was] quiet but tough but he was a very compassionate individual,” he said. “His desire was to become a cardiologist or a neurosurgeon.”

He was well on his way to become one. Even though it was only the start to his second semester at the university, Belz had earned enough credits to be considered a second-year student.

The Johnson County Medical Examiners Officer said Belz’s death is still under investigation. A full toxicology report won’t be finished for a few weeks.

Counseling services will be made available at both the university and at Kennedy High School.


(UPDATE)  IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — Gerald Belz, a University of Iowa student, died overnight after being found outside. His father tells KWWL alcohol was not a factor.

In an interview with Michael Belz, Gerald’s father, he said doctors repeatedly told him that there was no alcohol in Gerald’s system when he was brought in.

Belz said social media comments blaming alcohol prompted the family to speak out about his death.

“We just want to stress that this was not alcohol-related. There’s still questions that need to be answered and those answers will be coming in due time,” he said.

Gerald’s father said text messages from his son were sent to his girlfriend shortly after 12:30 a.m. that he was going to bed. According to that conversation, he told his girlfriend he did not have plans to go out that night.

An investigation into his death is still ongoing but the death is believed to be weather-related.

Gerald Belz was a freshman at the university. His father said he was tough, compassionate and wanted to be a cardiologist.

The Johnson County Medical Examiner’s office could not confirm the circumstances of Belz death. They said it will take a few weeks for the full toxicology report to be completed.


(ORIGINAL STORY) IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — A student at the University of Iowa died Wednesday morning in a reported weather-related accident.

You can read the statement from the University below:

We are saddened to share we’ve lost a member of the Hawkeye family. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and loved ones.

On Wednesday, Jan. 30, at approximately 2:48 a.m. University of Iowa Police discovered UI student Gerald Belz unresponsive behind Halsey Hall on the UI campus. He was transported to the hospital where he later died. No foul play is suspected. Though the investigation is ongoing, the cause of death is believed to be weather related. Belz was a second year, pre-medicine major from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Losing a fellow student and member of our university family is difficult. We encourage our students to reach out if they are in need of support.

A list of resources can be found on the university’s safety and support website ( or by contacting one of these offices:

Jalyn Souchek


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