Mike Creger, Forum News Service, Published December 10 2013
Duluth student who nearly froze to death may have sought shelter in garage
The Duluth Police Department closed the case Tuesday after interviewing several people who had been with Lommel that night, and released the gist of those conversations in a report.
According to the report:
After being dropped off around midnight, Lommel wasn’t discovered until 9:30 a.m. Police found her cellphone on the back porch and footprints matching the boots she had on in the backyards of the two homes.
Lommel’s night included time spent at parties in homes around the University of Minnesota Duluth, where she is a student. Friends and roommates interviewed said Lommel did not appear to be noticeably intoxicated, and the men who dropped her off at her home said they didn’t wait to see whether she entered.
“He hit the locks and she got out and they drove away,” the police report states.
The driver of that pickup was asked how intoxicated Lommel was. Friends said she had been drinking for six hours, including a game in which she took tequila shots. Police reported finding a Twitter entry from Lommel stating, “Yum Yum 10th shot of tequila.”
The man who dropped her off told police that Lommel had “no more than usual” when it came to drinks that night.
“Just like a normal party chick,” the report read when talking about the driver’s observations. “She wasn’t wasted. She could talk. And she wasn’t falling-down drunk.”
Police said they used Facebook and Twitter accounts to track down Lommel’s friends and roommates.
One roommate came home a few hours after Lommel but told police she hadn’t noticed anyone next door. Another roommate said she was home, watching television, but didn’t hear anyone knock on the door.
Members of UMD’s women’s basketball team live next door and weren’t home. The team was playing on the road last weekend.
Police at the scene Saturday morning followed Lommel’s tracks. Some led to a garage, leading them to think she might have sought refuge there for a while. Tracks also circled a locked car in the backyard. She also walked down a dead-end street before coming back to the home.
Police said it wasn’t clear if she walked around her own house, where a roommate was home. Friends said she left a party with keys to her home.
The police report says some tracks between the two homes show she probably used the side of a home to stand up. Other tracks show an area where she probably fell. Police believe she climbed over a railing to the steps where she was later found.
She was found wearing light-weight boots, jeans and a sweatshirt, the report said. It was estimated to be 15 degrees below zero at one time overnight.
The report shows that 16 people had contact with police regarding the incident, including Lommel’s uncle, who works for the police department.
UMD issued a statement late Tuesday, expressing support for Lommel and offering advice to students.
“The UMD Police Department urges caution in the extreme cold. Travel in groups,” the statement read. “Let people know where and when you will be traveling, and check in.”