A 22-year-old Erath County man died Thursday evening, the victim of an apparent heat stroke.

Zachary Decatur was found in a patch of tall grass on Farm to Market 914 about 6 p.m. Thursday by a resident doing yard work, Erath County Sheriff’s Investigator Bob Gonzales said.

“A man was weeding his yard and found the victim lying in a bar ditch, gasping for breath,” Gonzales said. “He called 911, but by the time the ambulance got there, the man had died.”

Gonzales said Decatur was wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants when he was found on a day when temperatures reached nearly 100 degrees.

“We believe he was walking to his grandparents’ home from town when he got hot and sat down in some tall grass,” Gonzales said.

Decatur apparently did not have a car and lived in an apartment in Stephenville.

Gonzales said investigators have no idea how long Decatur was in the grass, but said relatives went to his apartment to check on him about 2 p.m. Thursday and found that he was not home. Family members apparently told Gonzales that Decatur had some type of medical condition.

Gonzales is warning residents to use extra caution when they are outside during extreme heat.

“Stay out of the heat as much as possible,” Gonzales said. “I believe this was a heat-related death.”

Sara Vanden Berge covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at sara.vandenberge@empiretribune.com. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.