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Ice Woman

How did Jean Hilliard recover after being frozen solid?

Temperature: -25º

Nurses tried to save Jean


Jean Hilliard

December 20, 1980. On bitterly cold morning in Lengby, Minnesota, a man opened his back door to find his 19-year-old neighbor, Jean Hilliard, laying in the snow. She was literally frozen solid.

The night before, Jean’s car had ran off the road and gotten stuck.  Jean was trying desperately to reach her neighbor’s house.  The temperature was twenty-five degrees below zero.

At the small local hospital, Dorothy Killian of the nursing staff was stunned: 

“She was so cold, it was like reaching into a freezer, like picking out a frozen stick of wood.  Her face was absolutely white. Just this ashen, death look. We did hook her up to the monitor, and we got this agonal rhythm-- like one beat.  It was just like one and nothing. Then two. We knew that we had something, but that's a death rhythm.”

Dr. Ryan Kelly was called in:

“She was severely frostbitten. None of her limbs would bend or move.  And, really, things looked very grim. When a person gets frostbite, what we're basically talking about is freezing of the limbs. That actually means ice crystals forming in the cells, and in so doing, they destroy many of the cells of the body. After the hands and feet maybe start the initial stages of frostbite and the core temperature of the body drops,  the heart, the lungs, the internal organs of the abdomen, the brain, when those start to cool, it becomes more and more difficult for them to perform their functions, until finally they stop. At that point, the patient would more than likely die.”

The hospital staff was doing everything it could.  But Rosie Erickson, a hospital office worker, worried it wouldn't be enough. She knew that Jean needed a miracle:

“I called the pastor of our church and I stated simply that Jean Hilliard from the Lengby area was brought into the hospital in a frozen condition, very critical, and that she needed prayer.”

With the blessing of the family, the word went out. A prayer chain started about 9:00 that morning.  Within 10 minutes, more than 30 people were praying for Jean.

The odds against Jean were enormous. But two hours later, Jean suddenly went into violent convulsions.  It was a good sign, but the danger was far from over.  Doctors worried that even if Jean regained consciousness she might have serious brain damage.  And the frostbite was so severe that amputating Jean’s legs seemed inevitable.  Then Jean regained consciousness:

“I woke up in the hospital about noon. Things were kind of hazy and people were asking me questions as to who I am and things like that.  And I couldn't figure out why they were talking to me that way or why they were treating me that way. Of course, I knew these people. Of course I knew who I was. I mean, what's the big deal?”

Sandra Klicker, Jean’s sister, was there:

“When Jeanie first came to and we knew that she was going to live, it was an extreme relief. But what was more miraculous to me was her legs recovering. Every time we lifted the sheet, we could see the white just moving down. The black was disappearing little by little, and to me, I still think that was just unbelievable.”

Jean spent 49 days in the hospital.  In defiance of everything her doctors knew about frostbite, she recovered completely.  Dr. Ryan Kelly was amazed:

“It was enough that she survived. That was a wonderful enough thing. But to have this added gain of not losing any fingers or toes, and in fact, just having what I guess would be minor scars, this is remarkable.”

Jean credits her survival and astonishing recovery not only to the doctors and nurses who cared for her, but also to the friends and neighbors who prayed for her:

“There are other people across the nation that same night that were found in the same condition I was in. And they died. I just think without all those people that I might not have survived.”

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season one with Dennis Farina and coming soon with Robert Stack. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina.



edson lazaro's picture

prayer changes things

Anonymous's picture

I'm addicted to morphine ..pray for me..

Sherry 's picture

Praying for you in the holy name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Savior, and Redeemer Amen!!!!!

Dan's picture

I was an addict. And I prayed to god with all my might and heart was that instant I was given grace . I never had a withdrawal and have been clean since July 1997 . The Lord works wonders if you truly ask with an open heart. It's a year later but I see your request and I prey for your healing . God bless.

recovered addict's picture

to can, you are a lying piece of crap, either you never had a drug problem or as I said you are a lier. to anonymous why come here looking for attention.this was not about YOU or dan I just had to tell ya'll that stupid tools!.

Eric W Bohannon's picture

I Command The Spirit and Presence of Jehovah Lord God, in Your Mind, By His Blood, By his Power, with mercy and Grace, attached, for you, and try go to a Full Gospel Church and ask for Prayer. Jesus is Your Higher Power, The Spirit of Jesus, is in Your Drugs.

Brittany howard's picture

It is possible to over opioid addiction I have been clean for 4 years will pray for you

Jesus L's picture

I can help you...

Anonymous's picture

yep it really does

dfssssss's picture


Laura's picture


yo mama's picture

i dont think its real but it is and so is your mom. but ice women is real and a humanwould of died before frozen colid.[;

isaac sundquist's picture


XXAxeAngelXx 's picture

I'm at a loss of words

person's picture

omg this is so tru

True's picture

Anyone who says it isn't real needs to look up facts before they run their mouths. If you did that, you would know this is a true story. Duh.

HMm's picture

It is kind of mean of God to freeze a woman almost to death and then bring her back. I suppose it is just his way and she should have preached the Gospel a little harder if she didn't want to be frozen in the first place. Silly girl.

Colin's picture

jesus rains!

Rev. Kevin's picture

Its so awesome how doctors and science was able to cure this woman. God had nothing to do with this, thank the doctors.

Anonymous's picture

God had EVERYTHING to do with this.

Mac's picture

So by your logic god let all the other people stranded out that night freeze to death? How compassionate

SME's picture

God had everything to do with this, who do you think was guiding those people?
I will pray for you.

Hollywood's picture

Why couldn't the DR.S save the other people??? If you ask and believe in your heart prayers will be answered...Jesus Christ is the only true believe

Vaibhav's picture

Doctors wanted to amputate her legs. God didn't allow them to. It was god that saved her and her look luck (Karma too)
I love doctors!! But here God played a bigger part.

riley, anferd, and felch's picture

this is truly amazing. and i say everyone has got to do with helping jean. we love u jean!!!

mira's picture


lol's picture

HMM maybe they should start and experimenting and see if it can be re done

Anonymous's picture

This is real! WOW

Anonymous's picture

Absolutely incredible and an amazing story. I'm so happy that she fully recovered and living her life with her three daughters. I wish her the best of luck wow she is truly blessed! The power of prayers :)

vsw's picture

God is in control and knows what He is doing. WE LOVE GOD!!!

Melissa's picture

Hello! I am Jean's 2nd cousin and I can assure you, this story is 100% real. I know it is hard to believe, but this was just an extremely rare case in which Jean was very lucky. Whether or not you believe it was the prayers or the doctors, the story is real. Personally, I believe that the amazing people who prayed for her and the doctors and nurses who helped her both had an impact on her miraculous recovery.

rationalizer's picture

I wonder if she had alcohol in her system... that may have helped her not freeze to death

Iain Riule's picture

New reason for binge drinking - freeze prevention program!

Anonymous's picture

Who writes for "Unsolved Mysteries"? Jean was lying(not laying) in the snow; her car had run(not ran) off the road. The lack of grammatical knowledge exhibited by many of those who submitted comments is understandable; however, " Unsolved " would do well to employ someone with greater journalistic ability.

tube's picture

"greater journalistic ability"??goodness..... lying = not telling the truth;
laying = resting/placing something/positioning... and ran is the past tense of run... wew. hope you won't breed....

Glokkman's picture

Clearly she has Wolverine's regenerative capabilities. Lets get some adamantium strapped to her, pronto!

Anonymous's picture

She is real, i worked with her. Jean now lives in Cambridge,MN.

Aquamarine's picture

I'm going to use her story for a project. I find it very interesting and I really want to share it.

Susan's picture

While cases like this are rare, they're not unknown. As the body core temp drops everything slows. Breathing is all but suspended causing the heart to slow. The amount of oxygen needed for organ function drops dramatically. This is the same process thathas allowed children who have spent upwards of 30-40 minutes submerged in freezing water to survive.

Dan's picture

It wasn't god lol it was science im wondering why the blood cells in her body didnt freeze and cause problems very strange and intriguing.

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