PITTSBURG, Kan. —
A Mulberry man remains in critical condition and unconscious a week after suffering prolonged exposure to snow, ice and negative temperatures on a record-setting cold night.
The community, meanwhile, has rallied to support the family.
Last Monday just before 7 a.m., deputies from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department responded to a home in the 2400 block of West Fourth Street just outside the Pittsburg city limits after receiving a call from a homeowner who had found a man lying on the snow-covered ground.
That day, the low temperature was minus 9 degrees and the wind chill was minus 24 degrees.
The homeowner told deputies he had found the man, identified as Colter Steffens, 26, when he returned home from work at 6:50 a.m.
Paramedics with Crawford County Emergency Medical Services took Steffens to Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg. He was transferred later to the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.
Family members over the weekend said Steffens remains in the intensive care unit. He is on a ventilator, sedated and heavily medicated, according to Shaun Hampton, of Webb City, Mo., who is married to Steffens’ sister, Amanda.
“They are doing what they can to keep him stable and save his extremities,” Hampton said. “Doctors tell us it’s still too soon to know what to expect. There is going to be bad and good days, and he’s had both.”
Hampton said the family doesn’t know, and might not for some time, how Steffens came to be curled up in front of the home that night.
“We think he had a car accident,” he said. “There was only one set of tracks (in the snow), so we’re assuming he was the driver.”
Hampton said Steffens has two children for whom he “cares deeply.” He is employed at Quality Milling in Girard.
“He’s very strong willed and working the best he can to get through this,” Hampton said.
The community and those who know the Steffens family, meanwhile, are doing what they can to offer support.
“From the Pittsburg community, the Four-State Area, our hometown of Scott City, Kan., the Kansas City region and many other places — even people we don’t know — we have received an amazing amount of support,” Hampton said.
Rural Pittsburg resident Pamela Thompson, who for many years worked with Steffens’ mother, Patty, in local early childhood education, set up a bank account at Labette Bank in Frontenac. Donations may be made there in Colter Steffens’ name.
Friends are planning a pancake feed fundraiser at Applebee’s in Pittsburg from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. Tickets are $5.
In conjunction with the fundraiser, Thompson is selling raffle tickets for prizes that include donated gift certificates. The event and the raffle already have had an outpouring of pledges and commitments via followers on Facebook.
Friends also established a fundraising page on gofundme.com for Steffens, with the goal of raising $1,000.
“Too many to count are praying for him and taking their time to give such kind words, and give support and hope to our family that we appreciate so much,” Hampton said. “It has lifted our spirits and helped carry our family and him through this extremely difficult time.”
THE CRAWFORD COUNTY Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate how Colter Steffens came to be in the situation in which he was exposed to the cold weather.