Twenty-nine people were reported dead during the weekend blizzard on the East Coast, including a Washington, D.C., police officer who had a heart attack while shoveling.
Vernon Alston, 44, who served 27 years on the Capitol Police force in the House division, died while trying to clear the two-plus feet of snow that dumped in his Delaware driveway over the last couple days, the Hill reported.
“The death of Officer Alston is truly a tragic loss for the Alston family and the United States Capitol Police, which is fact is one in the same,” said Capitol Chief of Police Kim Dine said, in a statement. “Officer Alston was someone who loved his job, and his loss leaves a huge void in the hearts of all of the men and women at the USCP.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid weighed in on the death as well, saying he was “saddened” at the news and that “Alston was a fixture” at the Capitol.
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“My thoughts are with Officer Alston’s family during this difficult time,” he said, the Hill reported.
More than two dozen deaths were reported in Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee, due largely to shoveling-related heart attacks, car accidents or carbon monoxide poisoning.
The snow dumped more than 30 inches in parts, and thousands of flights were canceled. On Monday, at least 800 flights were still on hold, while the federal government remained shut. The House declared a week of winter vacation, while the Senate announced it would return to session Wednesday evening for votes.