A woman remains hospitalized in Mason City after she was found in her car nearly frozen to death. State Patrol Sergeant Richard Pierce says it began with a call from operators of the “Top of Iowa” rest stop at the Northwood exit off Interstate-35. They noticed a car had been in their lot for some time, perhaps 24 hours or longer, but then a worker noticed there was a woman in the back seat of the car, under some blankets. The workers tried to get the woman’s attention but she did not respond so they called rescue personnel, who had to use a “Slim Jim” to unlock the door and get into the vehicle. An ambulance took the woman to a hospital in Mason City, where she was being treated for exposure. Sergeant Pierce says it’s not against any rules to take a brief nap at a rest stop, and many drivers who find they’re getting drowsy on the road do that from time to time. He says workersd at the rest stop take care of things and if they notice a car’s been there for some time they’ll check it. Pierce says when workers realized the woman was the car, in weather that had gotten down to teens at night, they weren’t sure what kind of case they had. He says it’s not clear how long she’d been there. The trooper talked to her family in Minnesota, and they said they hadn’t heard from her in two days, but he doesn’t know if that means she’d been at the rest stop for two days. He says the roads were icy and slippery, and the driver might just have been very tired and fell asleep. It’s not clear whether a medical condition may have exacerbated the situation but the hospital will determine that. Under strict new confidentiality rules the hospital is not releasing any information about the woman’s condition but she is still at Mercy Hospital in Mason City. The Top of Iowa Welcome Center had been closed on Saturday for New Year’s Day.
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