Special Report: Pittsburg Man Who Suffered Hypothermia Receives - KOAM TV 7

Special Report: Pittsburg Man Who Suffered Hypothermia Receives Prosthetic Legs; Remains Positive


Our story begins on a January morning, snow covered the ground and it was only temperatures that night were below zero.  Frigid and dangerous weather that nearly cost Colter Steffens his life. It was early in the morning when Colter and a friend were driving on rural roads in Pittsburg.  

He says he doesn't remember details but the car went off the road into a creek he managed to get out of the car and began walking. He walked about a quarter of a mile from the car to this home, when he couldn't walk any longer he crawled.

"I start remembering having to use my knees, and start crawling, then my hands gave out, so I just kept using my elbows. And just spots of banging on the door, that's really all I remember." Colter explains.

When ambulances arrived at this house on fourth street in Pittsburg Colter's body temperature was 72 degrees.   

"Man I'm alive. They took me really quickly, evidentially. Cause I was almost dead, they said. I'm not going to die though, It's not my time to die." Colter explains of his experience.

He was rushed to KU medical center, where his lower legs and right hand were amputated.

colter: "They were taking me to get my hand done is when they told me, and I said "well, do i get to keep my left hand", and they said Yeah you're going to keep that, so I said what's the problem then? Cut it off. It was bothering to my body, so it had to be cut off."

Doctor's with Freeman Health System who specialize in amputations and physical rehab say Colter's case is extremely rare.

"Hypothermia amputations, if they do happen, you probably could count them. And for somebody who goes through amputations, it's usually one limb. And with Hypothermia, you're really losing your dextral extremities, which is very unfortunate." says Dr. Rebecca Jeyaseelan, Medical Director for Freeman East Hospitals Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit.

After being placed on warming machines and ventilators for nearly 3 weeks...Colter awoke,barely able to remember what happened the night he nearly died.

"You know...honestly I didn't know. I didn't know what was going on. At first I didn't remember, I had some short term memory loss there, but at first I didn't remember. Spots came coming back of what happened later on down the line. My memory is starting to come back a little bit."

It was weeks before his body was able to hold its own temperature. Soon after that, Colter's muscles were  strong enough to begin physical therapy. 

"I did it for awhile in therapy, and then I started getting weights in here and stuff like that, so i had been doing it myself for awhile."Colter says.

Now four months later, Colter has been given a gift...the ability to stand on his own two feet.
"They totally reconstructed it for my leg, and for my knees to fit perfectly in there and not make it hurt basically." he says.
While he's still getting used to his new legs...he says the whole process is a step in the right direction . Full of smiles and laughter, Colter says: "I can do things again. I feel like an actual person more now. It's cool. I like it. I think I'll keep it."
Colter Steffens is grateful for the small things in life.

"I'm happy. I'm happy. It's like i'm a little kid again. It's fun. It's like another toy I get to play with." He says.

Other than being two inches shorter than he was, Colter says he loves his new legs and is looking forward to what's ahead. He's looking forward to walking and running again, which includes running a race. He also is excited to show his two children his "robot legs" (as they refer to it.)

He is currently finishing up a week of inpatient rehab in Kansas City. From there, he will begin outpatient treatment at a facility in the area.
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