An investigation by the Nebraska State Patrol has determined that 37-year-old Lisa Conrad died of exposure after she and her 19-year-old son became disoriented in the Panhandle snowstorm walking from her stranded car.
Three local residents using snowmobiles recovered the body of Conrad about half a mile from her abandoned vehicle. They found Brandon Conrad, Jr. in an abandoned farmhouse about 2 ½ miles away. The patrol reports Brandon remains in stable condition at the Box Butte General Hospital, where he is being treated for hypothermia and frostbite.
The patrol reports Conrad’s car became disabled about a mile south of Berea on Highway 385 late Monday night, attempting to drive home from work in Alliance. Her son, Brandon, walked from their home to meet her at the car. Conrad called her husband in the early hours of Tuesday morning, stating that she and their son were walking to their home in Berea.
It was the last time anyone heard from her.
“In talking with Brandon, we were able to learn he walked from his family’s home in Berea to where his mother’s car was stranded,” said Captain Mike Gaudreault, Troop E Commander in a statement released by the patrol. “He and his mother then left the vehicle and attempted to walk back to their house, but became disorientated in the blinding snow and never made it.”
The investigation determined that at some point, Lisa Conrad could not go on. Rescuers found her body at approximately 5:40pm (MDT) in a field about half a mile west of Highway 385 off of Johnson Road. Brandon managed to make it to the abandoned farm house.
“This is a very tragic situation. Brandon did everything he could to help his mother. He is a brave young man, and we are thankful he is alive. Our hearts go out to the Conrad family,” Gaudreault said.
The spring snowstorm brought snow, high winds and cold temperatures to the Panhandle; near blizzard conditions. It forced the closing of several highways due to poor visibility, including Highway 385 between Alliance and Chadron and Interstate 80 from Big Springs to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
The Nebraska Department of Roads has re-opened the highways, but continues to caution motorists that travel in western Nebraska remains difficult.
Berea is an unincorporated community about 10 miles northwest of Alliance in Box Butte County.
You can call 511 or 800-906-9069 and follow the prompts or go to the website 511.nebraska.gov and use the icons on the left sidebar to click layers on/off for information on road conditions. Also, information is available through your PC or your smart phone by using ndortraveler.