Edmonton

Alberta man lost in ditch likely to have frostbitten fingers amputated, family says

An elderly man who spent the night lost in a central Alberta ditch will likely lose all his fingers to frostbite, his family has been told.

Elderly man’s missing truck found four miles from where he collapsed

Harvey Tessman, 80, was found injured in a remote ditch north of Irma, Alberta early Tuesday morning. (Rachel Farr )

An elderly man who spent the night lost in a central Alberta ditch will likely lose all his fingers to frostbite, his family has been told.

Harvey Tessman of Two Hills got lost on Monday while out driving his truck.

He was found the next morning lying in a ditch along Highway 881, more than 100 kilometres from home. His truck and keys were missing.

On Thursday night, someone spotted his missing 1994 Chevrolet pickup and contacted Wainwright RCMP. 

"It was stuck in the deep snow and it appeared an attempt had been made to get the vehicle out," Cpl. Deanna Fontaine told CBC News. "However, it was unsuccessful."

After a two-day search, the truck was discovered in a field along a summer road that is rarely used in the winter. The truck was four miles from the ditch where Tessman was found.

"It turns out it was only about two range roads outside of the perimeter that the police had been searching," Fontaine said. "So we were close, but didn't quite find the vehicle."

RCMP don't believe anything suspicious or criminal happened, which came as a relief to Tessman's family. 

"It kind of gives our family a little peace of mind anyway, knowing that nothing else happened to him," said Tessman's stepdaughter, Rachel Farr.

She thinks her stepfather likely pulled off on the side of the road for a break, then got stuck in the snow. 

"So he decided he needed to start walking and find some safety," she said. "So that's what he did." 

Tessman can't remember what happened to him. He was not wearing gloves and suffered extreme frostbite to both hands.

Farr said doctors told the family on Friday morning that her stepfather will likely have all his fingers and one thumb amputated. 

"It's going to be a long road for recovery," she said.

Harvey Tessman will likely lose his fingers and one thumb after suffering severe frostbite to his hands. (Rachel Farr )

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston

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