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December 11, 2013

Minnesota college student survives night on porch in subzero temperatures

DULUTH, Minn. — A University of Minnesota Duluth student suffered severe hypothermia and could lose her hands after she passed out on a freezing porch in subzero temperatures with only a jacket and boots to protect her from the 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 ended up unconscious on a neighbor's porch. Overnight temperatures in Duluth dropped to -17 degrees, with a wind chill of -36.

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

An unidentified friend who drove Lommel home told officers that amount was "no more than usual" for Lommel, and that she “wasn’t falling-down drunk,” the Duluth News Tribune reported.

But her friends did not stay to see if she went inside, and her roommates did not notice she was missing when they returned home a few hours later, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

She was on the neighbor’s porch for more than nine hours until a passer-by noticed her and called police. Lommel was transported to two separate hospitals, and remained in stable but critical condition Wednesday.

Lommel was not wearing gloves, and the cold caused her hands to swell up to three times their normal size. Doctors performed surgery to improve blood flow, in hopes of avoiding amputation.

"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."

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