A 19-year-old student at the University of Minnesota Duluth could lose one or more of her limbs after being left outside in the cold overnight, with only a jacket and UGG boots to keep her warm. Friends dropped her off near her home after drinking, and the student never made it inside.
Alyssa Jo Lommel is listed in critical condition after being found unconscious and hypothermic on a neighbor's porch. She spent the night on the porch and temperatures dropped below zero, causing damage to Lommel's extremities. Hypothermia caused her hands to swell to at least three times their normal size, splitting the skin. She could lose one or more of her hands and feet, but her family remains hopeful that she will fully recover.
"It's very much a wait-and-see thing at the moment," Teri Lommel told the SCTimes. "It's going to take some time to determine what's going to happen. We are hopeful that her body will heal itself."
Police are investigating exactly what transpired in the night that led to Lommel being left outside in such harsh conditions with very little protection. Friends state that she did consume alcohol but told police it was no more than normal and she was fine when they left her. Unfortunately, she never made it inside and fell unconscious; Lommel was in the cold for at least nine hours before passers-by notified authorities.
The University has issued a statement urging caution in the extreme cold.
"Travel in groups. Let people know where and when you will be traveling, and check in. UMD Health Services warns that exposure to extremely cold weather without proper clothing or apparel can result in significant bodily injury including frostbite, hypothermia, and even death in a very short period of time. Protect yourself, first and foremost, by limiting time spent in such dangerous conditions. If you do need to be outside, dress in layers, wear warm winter boots and cover the hands, ears and face with mittens, a hat and scar or face mask since these areas of the body are most vulnerable to cold-induced injury," the statement said.