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Parents of college student who froze to death in 2013, suing first responders


The family of a college student who froze to death three winters ago is now suing the first responders who found him, for failing to deliver appropriate care for their son.

Jake Anderson was found frozen to death along the Mississippi River in southeast Minneapolis in December 2013. The 19-year-old U of M freshman was found “face down slumped over a metal rail in a severe hypothermic state in a remote area.” The night before, he was out celebrating the end of his first semester in college by attending an ugly-sweater party.

In the federal lawsuit filed last week, Kristi and Bill Anderson allege that the first responders failed to follow protocols that would have called for “immediately removing [Jake] from the cold to an emergency room to try and revive him.”

The lawsuit states: “Minneapolis fire officials failed to recognize Anderson as a hypothermia victim and declared him dead at 8:57 a.m. after assessing his body for no more than 90 seconds.”

The Andersons’ lawyer argued, “You can’t make an evaluation when a person is cold in a cold environment….You can’t summarily pronounce him dead without taking him indoors for medical care and examination.”

The Andersons point to other cases involving young people, who were exposed to the cold for long periods of time, and survived.  In one of those cases, a passerby discovered college student Alyssa Lommel frozen in Duluth. She’d been exposed to minus-17 degrees for more than 9 hours, the Star Tribune reported.  She was taken to a hospital where emergency personnel were able to save her.

The family’s attorney told the Star Tribune that Jake was probably exposed to zero degree temperatures, from about 2am until he was found about 7 hours later.

The Andersons are seeking a minimum of $75,000 per plaintiff.  Nearly two-dozen individually named personnel are each being sued for negligence, according to the Star Tribune.  The suit also blames personnel from Hennepin County Medical Center and Minneapolis police.


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