The 20-year-old woman who was found unconscious in the woods in Bemidji and died was a college student from Bloomington who was walking back to her dorm after being out drinking, officials said Thursday.
A person out for a walk found a distressed Bemidji State University junior Sandra J. Lommen still breathing about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday near 10th Street and Rice Avenue, according to police.
Emergency medical personnel took Lommen to Sanford Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Police said in a statement that Lommen “showed signs of intoxication and hypothermia.”
Police Chief Mike Mastin said it appears Lommen wandered off the road, followed a trail to a creek and fell through the ice. Mastin said she got out of the water and made it some distance down the path toward the road but fell unconscious in the woods.
An autopsy was scheduled in Ramsey County for Thursday afternoon, and Mastin said he anticipates he’ll have more to say soon.
In the meantime, authorities have turned their attention to the hours before Lommen was found to try and determine where the underage woman was drinking and who may have been with her supplying alcohol.
Lommen was “at a social gathering” the previous night and left sometime after 2 a.m., Mastin said, declining to reveal any further details.
Lommen, a nursing student at Bemidji State, lived on campus at Linden Hall, a school official said.
That’s less than 2 miles from where she was found.
She was “dressed appropriately for what she had intended to do, which was walk home,” said Mastin, who responded to the call and noted that Lommen was wearing a jacket and boots.
The chief also said he detected an odor of alcohol coming from Lommen, but a degree of intoxication has yet to be determined.
Mastin said he wants people to know “you need to take care of yourself” when drinking and then heading out into wintry weather conditions.
“There is a family that just lost their 20-year-old daughter, and that’s just huge,” he said. “The parents were up here last night, and I met with them. It’s so very hard on them.
“I have two daughters myself. It’s tough.”
Lommen studied nursing in Bemidji at Northwest Technical College before enrolling this semester at Bemidji State, said university spokesman Scott Faust.
Faust said the university has a partnership with the Bemidji Taxi Co. in Safe Ride, a late-night service provided to students for $3 per person that gives them “a ride home if they are unable to drive or otherwise need assistance.”
The university is helping the community secure grant money to fund free passes for Safe Ride, “but so far that effort has been unsuccessful,” Faust added.