The condition of the 19-year-old University of Minnesota Duluth student being treated for severe frostbite and hypothermia remains critical but stable.
The Duluth News Tribune reports that Alyssa Lommel is being treated at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Her family reported on her Caring Bridge website that she had an uneventful night, “which is good,” and added, “Her breathing has improved somewhat, but she is still on the ventilator. She had another transfusion this morning.” The post also said said surgery on her hand and skin grafting is expected.
The Northland's News Center reported that UMD Chancellor Lendley Black also posted on her Caring Bridge page. "Be strong and know that we stand ready to assist you in any way possible," he wrote.
The UMD sophomore apparently spent more than nine hours in sub-zero weather early Saturday morning before she was found unconscious on her neighbor's porch. First responders said one of her hands was swollen to three times its size and cracked from the severe cold. She was wearing boots, jeans, a sweater and a medium weight jacket.
Police said the St. Cloud native had been drinking Friday evening before friends dropped her off at her driveway around midnight. Her cellphone was found on the back steps, where a roommate said she was up watching a movie until 1:30 a.m. but heard nothing. Tracks in the snow show Lommel probably tried to get into a neighbor's house where two passersby found her at 9:30 a.m.
Chuck Frederick, editorial page editor at the News Tribune, authored a column with the headline "Duluth didn’t watch out for student found frozen on porch." He said Lommel's friends failed her in not making sure she was safe inside her home before they drove away. He expressed sympathy for her family.
"Like them, I took a daughter to college this year, to a campus hours from home," he wrote. "Also like them, I’m sure, I prayed she’d make the right choices in her new surroundings, connect with good friends, steer clear of trouble and ace all her classes. And if that didn’t happen, if something went wrong, I prayed her new community would be there to pick her up, to set her straight, and to protect and support her. By all indications, it appears Alyssa Jo Lommel made some bad decisions early Saturday and got herself into a terrible situation. She shoulders responsibility for what happened. But I can’t help but feel we let her down, too, that we fell short of her family’s reasonable expectations. As a community, Duluth didn’t do what my mom always did, even when it seemed silly or unnecessary. We didn’t watch out for one entrusted to us until we were positive — absolutely positive — she was home and safe."