Wilmington Police are sharing details after a local man died of exposure on Wednesday. It was in the 1500 block of Charlotte Street that officers were checking on a vehicle that had run off the road near Deer Creek. When they arrived, officers found a 2005 GMC SUV unoccupied at the dead end of Charlotte St., resting against the concrete bridge support there. The vehicle was closed with no keys inside. Officers began a search of the area and found the owner of the vehicle, 67-year-old Melvin D. Von Kaenel in the creek just east of the bridge. Officers radioed for an ambulance and descended into the creek to render aid. When he reached the body it was obvious that Mr. Von Kaenel had been deceased for an extended amount of time.
While on the scene, Mr. Von Kaenel’s family called to report him missing. Mr. Von Kaenel left his home on Derby Court Tuesday evening just before 10:00pm and had not returned home; family members thought that he had stayed with his girlfriend but after contacting her found that he hadn’t. They then called the police to report him missing. Further investigation revealed that it appears that after getting stuck at the dead end Mr. Von Kaenel exited his vehicle and started to walk, falling down the embankment and into the creek where he was found. Investigators found no signs of foul play at the scene. An autopsy was performed Thursday morning, and although toxicology results are still pending, the cause of death appears to be hypothermia.