From now on, Latesa Adamsen will be better prepared to survive harsh North Dakota winters after enduring 16 hours stranded in her car with her 6-year-old son last week.
“People always think it won’t happen to them,” Adamsen told the Fargo Forum. “You think we would have been more prepared.”
As a blizzard moved through North Dakota last Friday and created dangerous road conditions, Adamsen was driving with her son, Dylan Ryba, to their rural home in Larimore, about 30 miles west of Grand Forks.
Blowing snow made it difficult to see. Adamsen turned on County Road 9 and before she knew it, the Volkswagon Jetta she was driving was in a ditch.
A broken phone prevented Adamsen from calling for help, so she got out of the car to start digging her way out, but was halted by piercing wind chill.
With the engine running, the two cuddled in the backseat, praying for a rescue. For dinner, they ate pepperonis picked off a frozen pizza, the newspaper said.
Once the storm cleared the next morning, Adamsen spotted a farm in the distance. The two bundled up in whatever they could find and attempted to walk there, only to be turned around by the bitter cold.
Around 11 a.m., a snowplow pulled up behind them.
"All of a sudden [Dylan] jumps up. 'Mom, there's a tractor! Mom, a tractor guy!'" Adamsen told WDAY.
The snowplow driver removed the car from the ditch. Once the Jetta was back on the road, it finally ran out of gas.
The two are OK, only suffering minor frostbite.
Adamsen later learned she was just 2 1/2 miles from home.
Public safety officials advise carrying a cell phone and keeping a winter survival kit in your car that includes extra clothing, a heat source, a radio and flashlight with extra batteries, along with food and water.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation says if stranded, stay in your vehicle and run the engine sparingly. However, in extreme cold situations, running the engine continuously may be your best bet. Otherwise, it may not start again.
Here are more tips from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.