A 17-year-old girl is believed to have died of hypothermia after her body was found near her abandoned car in frigid Wisconsin, cops say.
Daniela Velazquez, of Wrightstown, had been reported missing on Sunday, Jan. 29, after her mother said she did not return home. When her car was found crashed in a ditch that afternoon, Daniela was nowhere to be found, according to Brown County Sheriff’s Office Capt. David Poteat.
Her shoes and phone were found outside the vehicle, and her keys and wallet were inside, Poteat said in a news briefing streamed by WLUK.
Crews searched for two days, utilizing drones, snowmobiles and a K-9 crew, the captain said. The search encompassed 37 acres.
Daniela was wearing pajama pants and a sweatshirt when she was last seen, and Poteat said a police dog discovered a discarded article of clothing that matched what she was wearing.
Tuesday morning, Daniela’s body was found about a quarter-mile away from the abandoned car, officials said.
Officials will have to wait to conduct an autopsy, as the 17-year-old girl’s body was frozen, according to Poteat. He said hypothermia is the most likely cause of death, and foul play is not suspected.
“She was definitely not dressed for the weather and being outside in conditions... for any extended period of time is going to result in fatality in a short period of time,” Poteat said.
She was found with her “hands close to her, like someone would be if they’re trying to stay warm,” the captain added.
It’s believed she crashed her car between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday, when WLUK reported there was a wind chill “as low as negative-4 degrees.”
Poteat said it’s not uncommon for someone suffering from hypothermia to take off an article of clothing because their body could feel hot despite the cold temperatures.
Officials said Daniela was not currently enrolled in school. She had recently moved to Wisconsin from Florida.
“Our sincerest sympathy goes out to the family (and) Daniela’s friends. It’s a hard time for them,” Poteat said.