Coroner: Pemiscot County woman froze to death in snow

Thursday, March 5, 2009

HAYTI, Mo. — Pemiscot County Coroner James Brimhall has ruled the death of Carolyn Brown was accidental due to hypothermia.

Brown, 51, of Hayti, decided to walk home after a car became stuck in a snow-filled ditch along Pemiscot County Road 344 about three miles southeast of Hayti.

Brimhall said her snow-covered body was found "around 1:30-2 p.m. Sunday in a cotton patch 30-40 yards off the road."

The location was less than a half mile from the stranded car, but searchers could not find Brown because the blowing snow had covered her footprints and her body. Brimhall said family members found Brown after the wind had blown the snow off a small part of her light jacket.

"With the temperature in the upper teens and a dangerous wind chill, it doesn't take long for a person to become disoriented when slipping into hypothermia," Brimhall said. "She froze to death."

He reported the snowfall was around 8 inches and the snowdrifts reached depths of 2-3 feet.

Brimhall reminds area residents to remain in a stranded vehicle until help arrives instead of attempting to walk in frigid conditions.

The search was conducted by the Pemiscot County Rescue Team, Pemiscot County Sheriff's Department, police officers from other departments and volunteers.

Deputy Sheriff Josh Bost said her brother remained in the car and used a cell phone to call a relative. It is unknown why Brown decided to try to make it home.

Due to the number of stranded motorists on Interstate 55 and the hotels being full, Brimhall was asked by the sheriff's department to open a shelter at the Calvary Baptist Church in Hayti Saturday night. Only one driver made it to the shelter.

There were 16 stranded at the truck stop in Steele, but they could not reach the shelter due to the highway being blocked by a semi accident, according to Brimhall.

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