52-year-old Rock County woman found dead outside in cold, officials say

52-year-old Rock County woman found dead outside in cold, officials say

The Rock County Sheriff’s Office says low temperatures likely killed a woman whose body was found outside her home Wednesday afternoon.

Capt. Todd Christiansen said 52-year-old Lorie Hanson was found frozen in her driveway next to her car in the town of Harmony around 12:30 p.m.

“This is speculation, but it looked like she had walked around to the passenger side, opened the passenger door and, at some point, fell for whatever reason,” he said.

Officials said Hanson’s husband was out of town and had trouble reaching her, so he asked their son to check on her.

“He arrived at the house and found her deceased next to the car in their driveway, and she was frozen,” Christiansen said.

She had likely been in that spot overnight, the sheriff’s office said. Officials said she had a coat on, but they don’t think it was enough for the frigid temperatures.

“If she’s out there all night, it wouldn’t have mattered what she probably had on. She would have ended up freezing if she couldn’t get up,” Christiansen said. “But I think, based on her attire at the time, I think the hypothermia set on quicker than it would have with a proper winter coat and proper boots.”

An autopsy was being performed Thursday.

Officials said this is a sad reminder for people to bundle up and be prepared for the weather.

“Even if you’re just going out for a short distance, dress appropriately for the weather. You never know,” Christiansen said. “You might slip and fall and can’t get up, and if you’re not dressed with the proper clothing, chances of you freezing sooner are very high.”

Dr. Kevin Dardis said people should wear multiple layers and pick material that will stay warm and dry.

“The good thing about wool, even if it gets a little bit damp, it can retain heat much better than cotton,” Dardis said.

The emergency room physician at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center said he sees people a few times a week who come in for cold exposure.

“Be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” Dardis said. “If it means taking a couple extra minutes to make sure you put the extra layer on, making sure you have an extra blanket in the car … and also look out for each other.”