Wisconsin Mom Whose Daughter Froze to Death at College Warns of Dangers of Skipping Winter Coat When Going Out

Playing Mom’s Advice for College Students After Daughter Dies of Hypothermia

After her daughter died of hypothermia while at college, a Wisconsin mother is speaking out to warn others against suffering the same fate. 

Neala Frye, a 23-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, was found frozen to the ground in 2013 after a daylong search. Surveillance video from the time showed Frye drinking at a local college bar the night before, then leaving with a friend in the frigid February weather. 

"She did have a jacket, it wasn't a real heavy coat," her mother, Roxanne Weeden, told Inside Edition. 

It's a common problem at college campuses around America: skipping proper winter gear when going out.

When Inside Edition visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently, Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero found a plethora of students dressed for a night on the town, but often the students left their coats behind despite the subzero weather. 

"What are you doing outside without a coat?" Guerrero asked one girl. 

"I don't wear a coat in the bar so why would I wear one to the bar?" she replied. 

Others told Guerrero they worried their coats would get stolen, while some said a coat wouldn't complement their outfits. 

Though it's been six years since Frye died, Weeden still thinks of her daughter every day and doesn't want other families to have to go through what hers did. 

"The pain doesn't go away at all, but you just learn to live with it," she said.

Asked if she had advice to give other students, such as the ones Inside Edition encountered, Weeden emphasized dressing for the weather "even if you think it's going to ruin your outfit."

"Is it worth losing your life over?" she asked. "It's not."

Every year a scholarship in Frye's honor is awarded to a University of Wisconsin-La Crosse student who demonstrates similar characteristics, including a high grade point average and positive involvement in the community. Donations to the Neala P. Frye Memorial Scholarship fund can be made via GoFundMe.

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