• Living
  • Accident

Here’s How a Baby Survived 14 Hours in a Freezing River

2 minute read

An 18-month-old girl from Utah who was trapped in an overturned car for 14 hours may have survived because of the icy weather, not in spite of it, doctors say.

The toddler was left hanging upside down in her car seat with no food after the devastating crash that killed her mother, suspended over a freezing river as temperatures plunged overnight Friday and into Saturday morning.

Ironically, one expert says, the cold may have helped.

“When you become hypothermic, it slows the body down. Metabolism drops; your oxygen consumption drops; your glucose metabolism in use drops. It actually ends up being neuroprotective,” Dr. Barbara Walsh of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center told CNN.

The girl’s baby fat might also have helped insulate her from the elements, she added. “Children are very resilient, and I think sometimes we don’t realize how much they actually can withstand.”

But the car seat played the most significant part in the girl’s survival. Her mother, 25-year-old Lynn Jennifer Groesbeck, used the appropriate size of car seat and strapped her in properly. During the accident, this kept her from falling out of the car, and in the hours afterward, it kept her dry.

As for the lack of food, there’s no telling when the baby was last fed before the crash. In this case, it’s likely baby Lily got very lucky. She’s currently recovering in the hospital, and her family says she is improving.


Read next: Toddler Found Alive 14 Hours After Car Crash in Utah River

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com