A Nebraska State Patrol official said a 19-year-old “did everything he could” to try to save his mother before she died of exposure in a snowstorm that pounded the Panhandle.
Capt. Mike Gaudreault, commander of the Scottsbluff troop, said Wednesday that Lisa Conrad's body was found about 5:40 p.m. MDT Tuesday by Box Butte County residents searching for her and her son, Brandon Conrad Jr., whom she had called from her stranded car.
The son was found by the searchers a short time later in an abandoned farmhouse. He was suffering from hypothermia and frostbite.
Brandon was taken to Box Butte General Hospital in Alliance, where a hospital spokeswoman said he was in fair condition.
“In talking with Brandon, we were able to learn he walked from his family's home in Berea to where his mother's car was stranded,” Gaudreault said. “He and his mother then left the vehicle and attempted to walk back to their house but became disoriented in the blinding snow and never made it.”
Berea is an unincorporated community about 10 miles northwest of Alliance in Box Butte County.
Lisa Conrad, 37, was coming home from work in Alliance when her car got stuck about one mile south of Berea on U.S. Highway 385, Gaudreault said.
She was last heard from about 12:30 a.m., when she called her husband to say she and their son were leaving the vehicle to walk home.
At some point, Lisa Conrad was unable to go on. Her body was found in a field approximately a half-mile west of Highway 385. Brandon Conrad was able to make it to the abandoned farmhouse about 2˝ miles away, Gaudreault said.
“Brandon did everything he could to help his mother,” Gaudreault said. “He is a brave young man, and we are thankful he is alive. Our hearts go out to the Conrad family.”
Gaudreault said there is no indication alcohol was involved in the incident.
John Griffith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cheyenne, Wyo., said the Conrads were caught in “just terrible” conditions, with the Alliance area receiving 10 to 16 inches of snow. Visibility was about a quarter-mile. He said the wind was out of the north at 40 to 53 mph and the wind chill was below zero.
Griffith said Lisa Conrad's death emphasizes the importance of stranded motorists' staying in their car until help arrives.
“That's something we harp on all the time,” Griffith said. “Don't get out and wander around because you will often get disoriented, and then hypothermia takes over.”
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