Swedish Man Survives Two Months Inside Snow-Covered Car

Doctors say the 44-year-old entered a dormant, hibernation-like state which allowed him to withstand sub-zero temperatures.

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A Swedish man pulled from a snowed-in car said he survived after being trapped for two months, the Guardian reports. Doctors believe he might have gone into a bear-like hibernation mode, allowing him to withstand sub-zero temperatures and sustain himself on just ice and snow.

Peter Skyllberg, 44, is now recovering at Umea University Hospital in northeastern Sweden. His car reportedly became stuck in a snowdrift on Dec. 19 when he drove off a main road. Two months later, snowmobilers happened upon the vehicle, assuming they’d found an abandoned wreck. When they scraped off the snow, they realized a man lay in the backseat, wrapped in a sleeping bag.

(MORE: Europe’s Deep Freeze: Why Climate Change Is Not (Entirely) to Blame)

Doctors say the sleeping bag, along with the snow surrounding the car, served as insulation and helped keep the man alive. He reportedly entered a dormant state, similar to a bear’s hibernation, which slowed down his metabolism. Police say temperatures plunged as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit while Skyllberg was inside the car.

“This is a case in a lifetime,” Dr. Ulf Segerberg told the Telegraph. “Every winter we have people who have frozen to death. But a case like this, with someone caught outside for such a long time, is very rare, because it’s very rare that you are not missed by anyone, which seems to be the case in this instance.”

When he was found, Skyllberg could barely move or speak, only able to utter the words “snow” and “eat.” He had suffered hypothermia and severe malnourishment, and had never been registered as a missing person. Questions now turn to how the man became stuck in the snowdrift. The Telegraph reports that Skyllberg had found himself mired in financial woes, facing a court judgment in December due to debts totaling £150,000, or nearly $198,000. Neighbors in his central Sweden hometown of Obrero said he’d also recently broken up with his girlfriend.

Police officer Ebbe Nyberg told the Daily Mail, “We now have to wait until he is better to try to find out what really was in his mind.”

MORE: Deadly Cold Grips Europe

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