15 years later, toddler who survived freezing leads normal teenage life
Karlee Kosolofski was clinically dead, but warmed back to life in hospital
Fifteen years on, Karlee Kosolofski, who was discovered frozen at the door to her home but was revived in what medical experts have called a miraculous comeback, says she remembers nothing of the ordeal but appreciates her good fortune.
On Feb. 23, 1994, Kosolofski, a 2½-year-old toddler in Rouleau, Sask., a small town about 50 kilometres southwest of Regina, awoke in the early hours as her father, Robert, was preparing to go to work.
Robert Kosolofski said that was not unusual, because Karlee was a light sleeper and she enjoyed following her dad about the house.
Just prior to leaving for work, Robert said he tucked Karlee into bed with her mother.
Outside temperature –22 C
It was later surmised that Karlee decided to go find her dad and ventured outside. He had gone. Karlee, wearing boots and a winter coat over her pajamas, was too small to reach the door handle and get back into the house.
Despite her clothing, Karlee succumbed to the cold. Temperatures that morning were estimated to be –22 C.
At 8 a.m., some five hours later, she was discovered by her mother who, trained in CPR, tried to resuscitate her child, without success. Karie Kosolofski called nurses in town for help, and her husband.
"She told me that Karlee had frozen," Robert said, as he recalled the call. "'She's frozen solid; I found her outside.' Karie came right out and told me that she wasn't breathing. She was dead."
Now 17, Karlee told CBC she does not recall the incident.
"It sucks that I can't remember stuff, and I always have to be told," Karlee said, adding she wants to know what happened. "Not being able to remember still bugs me."
While the lower part of her left leg was amputated and she has had a series of corrective surgeries, Karlee said she enjoys a relatively normal teenage life.
"I've always tried to make sure that I wasn't different in any way," Karlee said. "I've always fought to try and be as normal as everyone else."
Dad still troubled with feelings of guilt
Her father said he remains troubled by the memories and still feels guilty about what happened.
The Kosolofskis said they do not mark anniversaries of the event, but they always remember the date, as it matches the birthday of Karlee's grandfather.
Today, Karlee is looking forward to finishing high school and hopes to study marine biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
Although a variety of numbers were quoted at the time, Robert said Karlee is an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for surviving the lowest authenticated body temperature of 14.2 C. Normal body temperature is 37 C.