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In Just 8 Minutes, Teen Suffers 1st-Degree Frostbite Outside NHL Winter Classic

Originally published Jan. 5, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- This dangerous cold can cause frostbite in a matter of minutes.

With temperatures expected to drop below zero Thursday, doctors anticipate it will again be a problem. A Minneapolis teenager learned that over the weekend.

On New Year's Day, it went down as the coldest NHL Winter Classic yet. Lamawn Siul, 18, enjoyed one of the best views in Target Field as one of the members of Vocal Essence, the Twin Cities youth group that performed the national anthem.

"It was nice seeing all those people in the stands watching us perform. It was fun," Siul said.

His mom, La Shonn Felix, confirms her son was dressed extra warm that day.

"He was perfectly layered. He had everything he needed," Felix said.

Siul has a vision disability. He said as the group was leaving after the second period, he got separated and lost track of them. He decided to step outside one of the entry gates to the stadium to figure out his location. He needed to call his friends. That meant he needed to take off his gloves to work his phone.

"I could just feel my hands getting colder and colder, and then at one point I just felt heat in my hand," Siul said.

The wind chill at the time was in the minus-20s, which according to the National Weather Service can cause frostbite in under half an hour. Siul estimates his gloves were off for only eight minutes, but that was enough time to give him first-degree frostbite as he waited for security to get clearance to let him back in the stadium and find his group.

Lamawn Siul -- Winter Classic Target Field Frostbite
Lamawn Siul (credit: CBS)

He said his hands turned a red color he had never seen before. They become swollen in the days ahead.

Felix was upset security didn't immediately let her son back into the stadium. He had a wristband from being on the field and his uniform matched the other Vocal Essence members.

"I understand policies and procedures. In that situation, I would have thought somebody would have let him in," Felix said.

Doctors said thinking your skin will only be exposed to dangerous cold for a short time is often how people get hurt.

Regardless of what led to Siul taking his gloves off, the time spent bare handed was a painful lesson.

"It don't matter how long you're out there, it's best to wear gloves," he said.

After five days, most of the pain in his hand was gone. Siul said he did miss some shifts at his job because it was too painful for him to even touch a computer screen with his hand.

If you start to feel frostbite symptoms in your hands, like a burning sensation or redness, say to warm up them immediately. You can do so by running them under warm -- not hot -- water.

Felix contacted the Minnesota Twins a few days after the incident. She said they have since apologized for what happened. A Twins spokesperson tells WCCO they are working to remedy the situation with the family.

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