Toddler Dies of Exposure After Family Car Gets Stuck in the Snow

SnowBrains | BackcountryBackcountry
Car stuck in the snow. Credit: Maxim Shklyaev on Unsplash

The Moffat County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the circumstances behind a mother’s trip into the Colorado backcountry that left her and her two young daughters stranded for two nights in the freezing cold, leading to the death of her youngest, 18-month old daughter.

The mother, Kaylee Messerly, 36, and her surviving three-year-old daughter were taken to a nearby hospital with exposure-related injuries.

Their abandoned vehicle, stuck in the mud and snow, was reported as suspicious on Thursday morning by an oil worker. The woman and her children were found wandering less than a mile away, but nowhere near any roads.

Messerly, who has a history of drug abuse, appeared in Moffat County court this week in a felony case, reports CBS Denver. She pleaded not guilty to Attempting to Influence A Public Servant and Criminal Impersonation, plus a misdemeanor traffic charge.

Full press release below:

On March 11, 2021, at about 8 a.m. the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a suspicious vehicle near county road 54 in unincorporated Moffat County. The road is not frequently traveled in the winter months. Deputies were dispatched to the area, locating the vehicle on a service road south of county road 54. The vehicle was unoccupied and appeared stuck in the mud/snow. A hasty search for an occupant(s) was initiated, with negative results.

Personnel and resources were immediately mobilized to search the area. These included Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, Moffat County Search & Rescue, and an aerial resource provided by Mountain Air Spray.

Three individuals, an adult female (36 years of age) and two female juveniles (18 & 35 months of age) were located approximately 1 mile from the vehicle.

The adult female and the 35-month-old juvenile were found alive, suffering from environmental exposure injuries. The 18-month-old juvenile was found deceased. The surviving adult female and the juvenile were immediately transported by tracked UTV from the scene to an awaiting Memorial Regional Health EMS ambulance. These two individuals were transported to Memorial Regional Health in Craig by ground.

The surviving adult female has been identified as Kaylee Messerly.

The female juveniles are her daughters.

The incident is currently under investigation.

All inquiries regarding the investigation should be directed to the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office.

Craig, CO

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