Frozen On An Arctic Night in 1980

On a chilly night in Minnesota, a girl found herself seeking shelter in 22-below-zero temperatures after her car skidded off the road into a ditch. Within her view, Jean Hilliard saw a farmhouse. Grabbing her mittens and coat, Jean made her way through the icy gravel road. Unfortunately, the farmhouse was empty, and the one next to it was also. She saw a house not too far and thought, another two miles wouldn’t be so bad.

Jean’s body was found only 15 feet away from the door of the third house Jean attempted to contact. Her body laid frozen in the snow. Wally Nelson, the owner of the house, found, what he thought to be her corpse. Nelson described her face to be “ghost-white” and her body as “stiff as a popsicle.” Unsure of what do with her, Nelson suddenly heard a slight moan coming from the girl’s body.

Without hesitation, Nelson carried Jean’s frozen body into the backseat of his car. It was the only place she’d fit since none of her joints could bend. Nelson said it was apparent that she had crawled her way to the house before she collapsed. It looked like she had fallen about four times from a mailbox that was about one-eighth of a mile down the road.

Hospital Visit

It looked like Jean’s frozen body had a slim chance of surviving. Her body temperature couldn’t even register on the thermometer. Doctors said her pupils were dilated; her eyeballs completely frozen. Not only that, but her feet were crystallized into the shape of her winter boots. The medics couldn’t find a pulse, yet alone blood pressure, because it was impossible to find a vein on her body. George Sather, the doctor, said he wasn’t sure if she would be able to survive but couldn’t give up on her since he also heard a faint moan.


This is what severe frostbite looks like. A rescue blanket is wrapped around her and those are frostbite wounds on the women’s face.

Unsure of how much longer she had left, he proceeded to wrap Jean’s frozen body with an electric heating pad that was circulating with 102-degree water. Also giving her oxygen, the heating pad was removed when her temperature finally reached around 98 degrees.


Miraculously surviving the intense frostbite, it did seem that Jean would be forced to have both legs amputated after defrosting. Believe it or not, Jean made a full recovery. There was no sign of any damage. Doctors say that the only thing they owe this speedy recovery to was her youth and incredible circulation.

It looks like someone got lucky.

How can you protect yourself?


Have you ever had a frostbite? Let us know in the comments below!