Lawsuit filed after Appleton woman freezes to death

CREATED Jul 9, 2013 - UPDATED: Jul 10, 2013

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OSHKOSH - A family from Appleton whose loved one died after wandering away from an assisted living facility has filed a wrongful death suit. They took action Tuesday morning in Winnebago County court.

The lawsuit alleges that Heritage Woods Assisted Living Center in Appleton was negligent for allowing 85-year-old Delores Wiersum to leave the building in the middle of the night last January.

Her body was found less than a mile away. The medical examiners ruled that she died from exposure to the cold. 

"To me, this is unthinkable that this happened, We felt that we had a good relationship with everybody there. We felt our mom was 100% safe. The fact that this could of happened is something we couldn't even imagine," said Delores' son, Jon Wiersum. 

ThedaCare of Appleton runs the facility and released this statement on the incident.

"We work very hard to protect the safety and well-being of our residents and when an incident such as this happens, we are saddened."

Attorneys for ThedaCare have 45 days to respond to the suit.