The world is an amazing and mysterious place. There are certain entities that are far beyond our control and imagination. A miracle happened in Lengby, Minnesota, to a woman named Jean Hilliard. On December, 20, 1980, Jean’s body was found frozen. The friend who discovered her, rushed her to the hospital with little hope that she would survive. Miraculously, Jean came back to life and left doctors and scientists baffled.
Surviving in sub-zero temperatures is difficult enough, however, Jean managed to not only come back to life, but recovered without losing a single nail. Her story was widely reported by several news agencies and a documentary was made to recreate the incidents in her life.
Note: Some of the photos are reenactments and are for representation purposes only.
Jean’s car skidded on an icy road and careened into a ditch.
On December, 20, 1980, the sub-zero temperature and strong winds forced her off of the road and into a ditch. Jean was on her way back from a friend’s house when the tragedy struck. Even though her car was heavily damaged, Jean managed to escape without a scratch.
Jean was on a remote gravel road and she knew that help was just 2 miles away. Determined to not freeze to death in her car, Jean decided to fight the heavy winds and freezing temperature. It was -22° F at the time and Jean walked through the extreme weather to reach her friend Wally Nelson’s house.
The distance was too long for her legs to bare.
At extreme temperatures body heat is quickly lost, causing Hypothermia. This is one of the leading causes of death in such temperatures. The distance was too long for her and walking against the wind at -22° F made her tired and her legs weak.
Jean trudged two miles in the blustery snow.
After walking the agonizing 2 miles, Jean reached her friend’s driveway. She had exhausted herself and barely had any energy left. In a later interview, she said:
“I was so relieved to see my friends house, as I knew that everything was going to be fine. I was almost there and that’s all I remember.”
She was so dehydrated and tired that her body collapsed on the driveway and was incapable of moving. The incident occurred at 1:00 AM, so there was no one on the streets to help her.
The extreme weather turned her into a human icicle.
For 6 hours, Jean Hilliard laid unconscious and crumpled in the snow. She was barely alive and did not have enough energy to call out for help. As time passed by, the sub-zero temperatures slowly turned her into an icicle.
At 7 AM, Wally Nelson got out of his house to witness his friend laying frozen on the driveway. He ran towards her to check if there was any sign of life. When Wally turned her around, he was convinced that Jean had died as her face looked like a ghost.
Wally loaded his friend diagonally into his car and drove to Fosston Municipal Hospital.
Even though Jean showed no signs of life, Wally took a last ditch effort to save his friend. He loaded her in the back of his truck and arrived at Fosston Municipal Hospital by 8 AM. When doctors first saw her, they had no idea how to save her as they were certain that the exposure to severe cold may have caused brain damage.
“We couldn’t take her temperature because there was no place I could put the thermometer.”- Dr. George Sather
Her joints were frozen and doctors had no way of moving her arms or legs. They described it as a stiff log covered with ice. Her eyelids were were frozen too and she was unresponsive to light. Since her skin was too hard, they were not able to pierce any needles through.
A miraculous moment: Jean woke up around 1 PM and asked for a glass of water.
After hearing about her daughter, Jean’s mom rushed to the hospital. There, she held Jean’s arm and kept calling her name. Around 1 PM, Jean started making noises and eventually asked for a glass of water. Neither the doctors or her mom were able to believe the miracle that happened in front of them.
By the end of the day, she was able to move her arms. Three days later, she was capable of moving her legs. The doctors were amazed as no amputations were required. One of the doctors described it as a miracle in medical history. Doctors were concerned and kept her in the I.C.U. for six days to monitor her.
49 days later, Jean left the hospital without losing a single nail.
Doctors argued with her parents that they may have to amputate her legs to save her life, but Jean showed signs of recovery in just a few days. Doctors still can’t explain what happened to her or how she survived after being completely frozen.
Guess there are still many things about our body that we haven’t gained knowledge of.