Dassel man found in snow after 4 hours

December 10, 2007

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

John Atkins of Dassel was found Tuesday night, after being almost completely buried in the snow for four hours, following a stroke.

Atkins was scheduled for surgery to remove a blood clot Thursday at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Atkins, 65, was supposed to have picked up some hay at around 2 p.m. Tuesday from Harlan Anderson of Cokato, but he never showed up, his grandson, Curt Atkins, said Wednesday.

Anderson notified the Atkins family that John never arrived.

In the meantime, John had fallen due to a stroke between the barn and a quonset-style building at the farm at 72341 CSAH 24. He heard his cell phone ring, but couldn’t move his arms to answer it.

His son, Robert Atkins, and grandson, Nick Atkins, 11, came to the farm around 6 p.m. to get snowmobiles. One of the females from the Atkins family called Nick and Robert, and told them to check John’s truck and see if he was there.

Robert said Wednesday he felt uneasy about his father being missing. The two of them went back and forth to the outbuilding where the truck was, several times to figure out what happened to John.

They didn’t realize they had walked within two feet from where John was lying, but they didn’t see him. The snow had drifted over him, Robert said.

Suddenly, Nick started yelling and screaming. John must have been aware someone was nearby, wiggled his foot, and Nick saw it.

John was dressed appropriately for the weather and wearing snowmobile boots, but his clothes were frozen, Curt said.

Robert immediately called Meeker County Dispatch. Deputy Gordie Prochaska, Dassel rescue squad and an ambulance were dispatched to the farm, north of Dassel, according to Captain Brad Lindgren.

The emergency responders used a backboard to carry John to the rescue truck and immediately applied hot packs to him to warm him. He was semi-conscious, but too cold to talk. John didn’t have frostbite, but he was very cold. It took about 15 minutes before he was warm enough to tell what had happened to him, his grandson said.

At first, John was taken to Hutchinson Community Hospital. Later, John was transferred to HCMC.