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“There wasn’t a lot of opportunity to save herself,” Adams County Medical Examiner says missing woman’s death a tragedy

38-year-old Lindsay Folan was soaking wet in sub-zero temperatures when she died on Christmas Eve
Lindsey Folan, 38, was found dead in the Town of Leola after going missing two days earlier.
Lindsey Folan, 38, was found dead in the Town of Leola after going missing two days earlier.(Adams Co. Sheriff's Office)
Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 11:10 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2020 at 6:55 PM CST
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ADAMS COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) - It’s a heartbreaking story with a horrific ending. 38-year-old Lindsay Folan was alone and freezing when she died in early morning hours on Christmas Eve in rural Adams County.

“It’s very tragic. It’s a case where there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to save herself,” said Adams County Chief Medical Examiner Marilyn Rogers.

Authorities say she drove into a watery ditch on private land, possibly a cranberry bog, and her car became submerged to the rooftop. She was able to get out of her car, but she was likely soaking wet. She walked a short distance, but eventually to succumbed to the cold.

Rogers say the preliminary cause of death is hypothermia.

“Hypothermia is when your body loses more heat than you can produce,” she said. “The biggest factor there was that cold water. With cold water exposure, heat loss occurs 25 times faster if you are wet,”

According to the Town of Rome Police Department, Folan was last seen around 1:30 in the morning on Christmas Eve on Leisure Lane in the Town of Rome. Her body was found two days later, about 10 miles away from where she was last seen, off County Highway W in the Town of Leola.

Authorities say it was brutally cold the morning of her death. Temperatures were in the single digits. She was soaking wet and in a very rural part of the county—so not many people were around, especially at that time. Rogers says exhaustion and confusion from hypothermia can set in as soon as 15 minutes, if you’re wet.

She believes Folan’s chances for survival were slim.

“Hypothermia, by the very nature of that condition, she became confused and she became disoriented,” said Rogers. “The body starts to try to survive by keeping the brain alive and shutting down other organs,”

Rogers believes Folan tried to find help but due to her confused state, she didn’t get very far. Sheriff Brent York says her body was found “less than a few hundred yards from where she crashed her car.”

“I believe there was a home that wasn’t very far away, but she had gone in the opposite direction,” said Rogers.

Rogers wants to remind people to have a winter kit in your car just in case you get stranded. A winter kit likely wouldn’t have been helpful in this case because it would have gotten wet. But Rogers says the best thing you can do to help prevent something like this from happening is to tell people where you’re going and what time they can expect you to arrive.

Folan’s funeral will take place Saturday, January 2nd in Plover, Wisconsin.

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