A male driver who spent about four hours stuck in a ditch south of Aberdeen early Monday morning was not injured, but the incident could have ended tragically, a sheriff's office official said.
Were the temperature Monday morning as cold as it's supposed to get later this week, the driver could have frozen to death, said Tom Schmitt, chief deputy with the Brown County Sheriff's Office.
Instead, the man was simply arrested for drunken driving, Schmitt said.
He said the driver was southbound on County Road 14 near the intersection of 142nd Street when he crossed the oncoming traffic lane and went into the ditch on the east side of the road. The man had passed out while driving, Schmitt said.
It's estimated the man drove into the ditch about 3 a.m., Schmitt said. He was found by a state Department of Game, Fish and Parks official about 7 a.m. The GFP worker stopped to check on the vehicle and couldn't rouse the driver, Schmitt said.
The projected low temperature for Thursday night is about 20 below zero, according to the National Weather Service, a hazard for somebody stranded in a vehicle for hours. And there are other potential dangers when vehicles run for long periods of time, Schmitt said. One is that deadly carbon monoxide can make its way into the vehicle.
Another, he said, is that when a vehicle remains in gear, sometimes its tires keep spinning, get hot and start a fire. That didn't happen in the Monday morning incident, Schmitt said.