Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 11, 2013

Minnesota college student survives night on porch in subzero temperatures


CNHI News Service

DULUTH, Minn. — A University of Minnesota Duluth student suffered severe hypothermia and could lose one or more limbs after spending a night passed out on a freezing porch in subzero temperatures with only a jacket and boots to protect her from the frostbiting cold.

According to KMSP-TV, Alyssa Jo Lommel, a 19-year-old sophomore from St. Cloud, Minn., had reportedly been dropped off near her home after a night of drinking, and somehow ended up unconscious on a neighbor's porch.

Overnight temperatures in Duluth dropped to -17, with a wind chill around -36.

KMSP reported that Duluth police issued a statement saying Lommel had been playing a drinking game with friends and in the process may have consumed over 10 tequila shots.

An unidentified friend who drove Lommel home told officers that amount was "no more than usual" for Lommel, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

The same man said that Lommel "wasn't wasted" when he and others dropped her off around midnight. "She could talk. And she wasn't falling-down drunk," he told officers, according to the police report.

Nonetheless, Lommel's friends didn't stick around to watch her go inside. Nor did her roommates notice she was missing when they returned home a few hours later, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Lommel's footprints suggest she attempted to enter a parked car before ending up on the porch.

With her neighbors away, Lommel apparently remained there for over nine hours until a woman riding by with her boyfriend happened to spot her and called police.

Lommel was transported to two separate hospitals, and remained in stable but critical condition Wednesday.

As Lommel was not wearing gloves, her hands swelled up to three times their normal size, causing the skin to split.

Doctors are attempting to surgically improve Lommel's blood flow in order to avoid having to amputate any of the affected limbs.

"It’s very much a wait-and-see thing at the moment," Lommel’s mother told the St. Cloud Times. "We are hopeful that her body will heal itself."

The University of Minnesota-Duluth Police Department also released its own statement urging students venturing outside to "travel in groups."