Jean Hilliard the ice lady

Jean Hilliard, The Ice Lady and Her Remarkable Recovery from Being Frozen Stiff

Jean Hilliard, Found Frozen Stiff After Over 6 Hours in Sub-Zero Temperatures

Jean HilliardDecember 20th 1980, 19 year old Jean Hilliard was heading to her home in Lengby, Minnesota on a cold winter’s night. Her car skidded on ice and became stuck in a snowbank. It was 22 degrees below zero, she took her gloves and her winter coat but left behind her hat as she could see lights on in a home nearby.

Unfortunately no-one was home so she trudged to a second farmhouse but that too was empty. She decided to walk to a friend’s home some two miles away but unfortunately never made it. She collapsed and lay in the snow for six hours until she was found the next morning.

Wally Nelson was heading to work at 7am and discovered the frozen body of Jean Hilliard, just fifteen feet from his front door. Naturally seeing she was frozen stiff, he thought she was dead but he thought he heard a slight whimper so rushed her to Fosston Municipal hospital. He had difficulty getting her into the back seat of his car as her joints wouldn’t bend.

Nelson said it was clear she had virtually crawled from his mailbox towards the house, seeing she had fallen in the snow many times.

Watch the video below to see what happened to Jean Hilliard That Day in December 1980


Dr. George Sather examined Jean but feared she was dead, however he too heard a slight noise so knew there was someone conscious inside. Her heart beat was just a faint eight beats a minute and her respiration just two or three times a minute.

Jean’s body temperature didn’t register on the hospital’s thermometers. The lowest they went was 80 degrees meaning 10 degrees below a normal human’s body temperature

“ The pupils in her eyes were dilated, her eyeballs were frozen solid, and her feet were frozen into the shape if her boots.”

“There was no evidence of a pulse or blood pressure.” Said Sather’s brother, Dr. Edgar Sather. “ Her body was too frozen to find a vein to get a pulse.”

Source: The Montreal Gazette

Ice LadyJean was put on oxygen and wrapped in an electric heating pad that circulated warm water. They couldn’t feed her intravenously as she was too frozen, so had to wait several hours before they could give her some nutrition.

Doctor’s assumed as she began to warm up that she may recover but would likely lose both legs.

By evening she had warmed up to a normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees.

Doctors were cautious that she would make a full recovery without lifelong damage due to being frozen stiff, however as time went on she continued to amaze doctors who praised her youth and excellent blood circulation for her survival.

Reports that Jean Hilliard’s parents rapidly set up prayer groups to pray for their daughter’s recovery played a big part in her surviving.

Jean’s only permanent damage was some frostbite which would require skin grafts, she suffered no brain damage.

The Spartanburg Herald posted an article in January 1981 where physicians stated survivors of being frozen are not rare, nor is it a miracle. They state freezing victims often have a full recovery even when they have been without a detectable heartbeat.

Dr. Richard Iseke stated “ No one is dead until he is warm and dead.”

Source Spartanburg Herald

Image 2 of Jean Hilliard