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Archie Ingersoll, Published February 14 2014

AUDIO: Police: West Fargo man 'lucky' he didn't die after found wandering in cold

WEST FARGO – A report of a suspicious person knocking on the door of a house early Friday led police to find a man on the ground with injuries caused by subzero temperatures.

About 3:30 a.m., officers were sent to the house in the 3400 block of Loberg Lane, near Liberty Middle School, but the man had already left, said Assistant Chief Michael Reitan of the West Fargo Police Department.

Police followed the man’s footprints in the snow. Not far away, they found him by a house under construction, police said. At the time, the air temperature was below zero and the wind chill was lower than 20 below.

The man, a 33-year-old from West Fargo, told police he had walked from a nearby bar and had been outside for about two hours.

“He had been drinking. I don’t know his level of intoxication,” Reitan said.

Medics took the man, whose name was not released, to Essentia Health where he was treated for injuries related to the cold. His condition was not available, but Reitan said the man’s injuries were not life threatening.

“The guy was lucky,” the assistant chief said. “He certainly could have frozen to death, and we would have been investigating a fatality.”

Earlier this winter, a man died in an apparent exposure death.

Randy Lee LaFontaine, a 48-year-old homeless man, was found dead in Fargo on Jan. 9 under a truck in the 1900 block of Second Avenue South.

Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel said Friday authorities are still waiting for results from an autopsy that will determine how LaFontaine died.

Vettel has previously said LaFontaine likely died of hypothermia.

Reporter Emily Welker contributed to this report.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Archie Ingersoll at (701) 451-5734