Quad City teacher died from hypothermia along Interstate 88

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A Quad City teacher found dead along Interstate 88 near Dixon in November froze to death.

The Lee County Coroner confirms to WQAD-TV that hypothermia is the official cause of death for 65-year-old Lee Catlin.  Catlin lived in Bettendorf and was a longtime teacher in Moline.

Catlin's body was found along the Interstate on the morning of November 13th by highway workers. His car was found about a mile away.

Two motorists called 911 twelve hours earlier, after seeing a man in distress by the side of the road, waving his arms near an overpass.  The callers gave similar directions and were told state police were on the way.

The first caller was a trucker who relayed the mile marker and approximate location of the man, who he told WQAD in an interview, "you couldn't miss" if you were looking.

Sixteen minutes later, a second caller gave a similar description and location, the dispatcher telling them police knew about it and had someone on the way.

Illinois State Police say they are not conducting an internal review into what happened that night, and have denied Freedom of Information requests filed by WQAD-TV for more information and records on their response to the emergency calls.

Police have also not released any other details about the incident, including why Catlin was separated from his car.

In December, Illinois State Police spokesperson Monique Bond told Sauk Valley News the cause of Catlin's death was "alcohol-related," but later backed off that statement, saying results from lab tests had not come in yet.

Bond also told WQAD that an internal investigation would not be conducted into how the case was handled, because the call was properly dispatched that night and came back unfounded.

For more coverage of the investigation into Mr. Catlin's death - click here.


  • Regan Cahalan

    WQAD should not rest until more info is found out as to why officers were not able to locate this man. Without answers, or at least the demand for answers and investigation, the Illinois State Police would be able to react/not react however they please. I feel for his family and loved ones and pray they get answers.

  • dee

    Please don’t be so quick to judge. We don’t even know what cell tower the calls came off of. You don’t always get the closest emergency group with 911.

    Also ask why he didn’t use his cell phone and did he have his GPS disabled, why did he leave his car?

    Sometimes you are not going to get a black and white answer.
    Media doesn’t always help but stirs up the fires with their so called facts.

    Attend the coroner’s jury to find out some of the facts and listen with an open heart.

  • Penny

    I personally would like to know why those two people that called in did not stop to help this man, maybe if they had pulled over and waited (even if they just waited inside their vehicle) the officers would have found him quicker. I don’t think in any of the stories that covered this tragedy anyone has asked that question.

  • Max

    Do not blame the motorist and truck driver that called in. They did what they should have done and called it in. As a ordinary person I would have done the same thing. I would not have approached a stranger to ask them if they needed help. In this world now a days, you can’t trust anyone. They did right by calling the authorities.

    • MLS

      I understand about the concern for one’s own safety these days….but really? Hopefully you are never stranded and in need of help and you can wave with a cheerful heart as others pass you by…..

  • teresa

    I feel his death could have been avoided! There is no reason the police shouldnt have searched til he was found! I honestly dont think they looked for him! Shame!

  • Katie

    I cannot believe some of you people in here! The police didn’t do there job bottom line!! How can you sit back and point the finger at the motorist? The bottom line is this could have been avoided because he wouldn’t have been out in the cold! If this was you spouse/son/brother you know you would be asking where the state patrol was! That’s what we the citzens of Illinois pay these people to do is protect us and that didn’t happen in this case! I feel for the family and the motorist both I’m sure think what if I would have stopped!

  • elmer eilts

    State Police should not be investigating themselves. Is it time for the Feds to step in? May be Illinois Congress? Some did not do the job they were paid to do. State Police trying to sweep this under the rug. Why?

  • Elizabeth

    I would have pulled over and called the police. Then WAITED for them to show up. This death could have been avoided. Such a shame. I feel the State Police is responsible. When you are given the mile marker where someone is laying… and that is exactly where he is found dead. Then someone DID NOT check. He can’t be there one minute.. disappear.. then re-appear later. Smh… Personally, I would have turned around and at the least stayed in my car until help arrived. Thoughts & Prayers….

    • Elizabeth

      I would also like to add that this story angers me to NO END!!!! Poor guy. Laid there on the side of the road waving his arms in vain. People just don’t care anymore. Stupid excuses.

  • Ronda Czerwinski

    I had him as a teacher in junior high and I can honestly say he is the one teacher that I fondly remember. He was always smiling and a genuinely good guy! So sad whatever the circumstances.

  • trey

    I have seen somebody waving at a police when they needed help or something and the police just ride bye and keep going.and it’s so cold that hypothermia will cause you to have a heart attack.& and I don’t know why he didn’t stay in the car maybe it got too cold in the car and and maybe didn’t have no gas or heat may have messed up.and it’s so sad that you could have anxiety attack & people will just laugh at you and you could be dying and they thinks it’s so funny

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