How a Wayward Teen Lost His Life in the Phoenix Heat

News, How a Wayward Teen Lost His Life in the Phoenix Heat: detailed suggestions and opinions about How a Wayward Teen Lost His Life in the Phoenix Heat.

Unhoused, addicted, and in crisis, Caleb Blair “didn’t need handcuffs—he needed help.”

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Caleb Blair entered the Circle K gas station in Phoenix asking for help. “I can’t breathe, I’m hot, I need to sit down. I can’t breathe,” he told the male cashier. He was sweaty, panting heavily, and struggling to stand up straight.

It was 10 June 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona, and the city was experiencing the season’s first extreme heatwave. The temperature outside was 112F and rising.

The cashier told Caleb, a 19-year-old Black man, that he could not rest inside the air-conditioned store—it was against company policy. Blair had no choice but to go back outside, where CCTV footage shows him curled up on the asphalt, rolling around, distressed and struggling to breathe as cars drive in and out of the parking lot. The temperature on the unshaded ground was probably 130-140F, but the teenager was unhoused and high on fentanyl, a powerful opioid, and methamphetamine, an addictive upper. He was confused, disorientated and overheating.

An hour or so later, a female Circle K employee called 911. “There’s a guy outside, he’s on something,” she said. “He’s banging his head against my car and he’s got blood on the door.”

By then, Caleb was naked and his breathing was worse. The temperature outside had climbed to 115F.

Another 911 caller reported a man in “medical distress…I can see that his foot is cut, he just puked, it looks like it might be blood. He’s been doubled over hitting his head on the ground.” A third caller said: “He’s squatting down between cars, he’s obviously on something, beating the ground…It’s an African American male, he’s got a shoe in his mouth currently, pants around his ankles…He’s pulling his own hair.”

Story continues