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SNOWBOUND CAR SURVIVOR
'We don’t know why he didn’t try to leave'

'We don’t know why he didn’t try to leave'

Published: 20 Feb 2012 07:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Feb 2012 07:30 GMT+01:00

Many questions remain about how and why a 44-year-old Swedish man survived subzero temperatures in his snow-bound car for two months without any food.

The man, named in media reports as Peter Skyllberg, hails from near Örebro in central Sweden and was discovered on Friday by a pair of passing snowmobilers who had stopped to inspect what they thought was an abandoned car in a forest trail outside of Umeå in northern Sweden.

When emergency services arrived they found a severely emaciated man who claimed to have been living in the frozen car since December without any food.

“"It's just amazing he's alive!" Västerbotten County police spokesperson Ebbe Nyberg told the AFP news agency.

The man was immediately taken to hospital, which gave word on Sunday that he was doing well under the circumstances

Meanwhile, the seemingly impossible survival story has sparked global media attention and left many wondering not only how the man could have survived in his frozen car for two months, but also why he ended up there in the first place.

“We don’t know why he didn’t try to leave,” Nyberg told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

The man claimed he last had food on December 19th and survived by sticking his hand out the car window to grab handfuls of snow from the roof.

One source told the Aftonbladet newspaper that the man also survived on lip balm and soft drinks.

While surviving for so long under such conditions is unlikely, Stefan Branth, a doctor at Uppsala University Hospital, explained that the human body has an incredible capacity for survival.

“You can live for a month [without food]. Two months is extreme, but not impossible. But they really must have found him at the last minute,” he told the paper.

The cold temperatures may have also slowed down the man’s metabolism in what some experts call the “igloo effect”.

According to Aftonbladet the man lived a “totally normal” life until late last year when something happened that “changed the man’s life”.

“He had a girlfriend, but they broke up. And then he ran into trouble paying his bills and the rent,” a source told the newspaper, which reported the 44-year-old was 1.6 million kronor ($240,000) in debt.

The man’s father told the newspaper his son hadn’t had contact with his family in 20 years, explaining in part why he was never reported missing throughout the ordeal.

A neighbour of the 44-year-old told SvD that the man had a difficult time dealing with the break up and his economic troubles.

“The whole situation became too much for him. He just left,” the neighbour told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, local police, who were the first to be alerted of the man's whereabouts, have stated that the event is no longer a police matter.

“There has been no crime committed as far as we are concerned; we closed the case on Friday afternoon,” Peter Jonsson of the Umeå police told The Local.

The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:53 February 20, 2012 by Daho
The road where he was found had not been plowed since December, and there where no wheel- or footprints in the snow. Still a mystery, the police won't investigate any further though. No crime has been done. He is still in intensive care, but is recovering well.
08:58 February 20, 2012 by hejsweden
amazing! totally unreal.

glad tghe guys still alive thou
09:45 February 20, 2012 by derp
One does not simply get stuck in a car for two months.
09:53 February 20, 2012 by Staylish
To be able to survive two month without food you must be very strong both physically and mentally. But why should anyone even exposing themselves for that suffering? Either he wanted to get famous that way or he did want to die. What i have heard it was just about two kilometers from the E4. It couldn't be hard to walk back to civilization unless he had like a broken leg...
09:55 February 20, 2012 by Ter76
Now wait for the book:) and the hollywood block buster:) which will aid his debt. Good though he is responding so well to treatment.
10:03 February 20, 2012 by honnivet
It is surprising that the man in the car managed to survive without food for as many days. The man must have had luck on his side as he sat inside the car. I think he must have been very scared and felt very alone. Would not it be snow, he would surely not have survived!
11:36 February 20, 2012 by klubbnika
I am sure the guy is severly depressed.
11:38 February 20, 2012 by Lemon1987
Im telling you again . It was just from another ultimate series of Man vs Wild with Bear Grylls :D
11:55 February 20, 2012 by Åskar
@klubbnika

According to something I've read elsewhere he was. Apparently he had financial problems that were too overwhelming for him.
12:33 February 20, 2012 by DAVID T
I should have known a woman drove him to it - they are the root of all EVIL :-)
13:15 February 20, 2012 by gabeltoon
I feel sorry for this guy.He needs a doctors help for his state of mind.Unless you have been in a similar state you don't know what is going on in his mind.The pressure that one can be under can do weird things to you.I have been tormented by financial matters had it not been for my brother i don't know what i would have done.I do hope this guy gets the help he needs and that something can be done to get him out of his situation soon. Good luck to you.
13:48 February 20, 2012 by Claris
This is weird, but good that he is alive.
13:58 February 20, 2012 by Dizan
This story is unbelievable, I even wonder if it's true? Can a human really survive for so long without food or heat? Anyway I'm glad that the man is alive and gonna be okay. It must have been terrible to be caught in the car for so long! He must have been very strong both mentally and physically!
14:04 February 20, 2012 by alakasam
Luckily enough he likes snow! He won't eat icescream for a long time.
14:42 February 20, 2012 by Åskar
@Dizan

This is, according to some medically trained commentators, about as long as you can make it without food and, the way I understand it, he wasn't really trapped in his car, only in his mind.
22:35 February 20, 2012 by Arturio
Fake story. He was under his bed for two month before organizing with his friends the lucky rescue.
22:56 February 20, 2012 by planethero
Hypothermia also makes you depressed.

That must have been some downer.

Poor bugger, hope he pulls through.
08:19 February 21, 2012 by fluttershy
@planethero

What source did you get it from? I have hypothermia, and I don't feel very depressed. But considering he was stuck in the car for two months and starved and had hypothermic reactions, it might've caused him to become depressed.

"The man claimed he last had food on December 19th and survived by sticking his hand out the car window to grab handfuls of snow from the roof" I don't quite understand why he didn't open the car window all the way so he could get out of the car and walk to the road.

I also can't help but wondering how he ended up under the snow out in the forest. It was claimed that the man was found lying in a sleeping bag, and I mean, most people don't tag along on sleeping bags unless they are going camping, so maybe he planned it all. Maybe he wanted to take suicide, considering his life wasn't so great at the moment.
11:01 February 21, 2012 by klubbnika
#18

I also wonder how he went to the bathroom if he said he didnt leave the car.
12:41 February 21, 2012 by soultraveler3
I think Staylish in comment #4 may be right.

It kind of sounds like the guy was wanting to die. I think he was hoping to just go to sleep from hypothermia and not wake up again.

It's not normal to drive to the end of a forest road and allow yourself to get snowed in. They haven't had any storms dump meters of snow all at once up there this year, so he had to sit there and allow it to pile up around him and the car little by little. If this was an accident, any sensible person would've bundled up (he had a sleeping bag and probably a jacket) and walked the few kilometers back to town.

Others have commented in previous threads that he was smart to stay and that the people who die are the ones who try to walk out. That may be true at times, if you're in the middle of nowhere, with no towns or people within 100s of kilometers, if you have the relative shelter of a car vs. hiking for weeks, the car wins, but that wasn't the case here. The people that found him were screwing around on snowmobiles on a trail around town.

The guy made the choice to allow himself to be buried in his car. I hope he gets the help he obviously needs.
13:12 February 21, 2012 by insect
Im just wondering about the lipbalm. Was he eating it or applying it on his frozen lips. Plus how much of it did he have and why would one have so much lipbalm.....mysteries
15:47 February 21, 2012 by strixy
It says a lot about the homo sovieticus mentality: The state is expected to take care of everything and also has the unlimited powers to interfer with individual's life. Family ties are non-existent, people do not look after each other expecting that the state will do it for them. This is the death of community spirit.
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