Sleepwalker Freezes to Death

Alcohol and Ambien may be to blame, say investigators

Sleepwalkers have been known to execute a variety of tasks, from preparing a midnight snack to making phone calls, all while completely asleep. However, one Wisconsin man's sleepwalking tendencies contributed to his unfortunate death.

Timothy Brueggeman, a 51-year-old electrician, sleepwalked out of his home in Hayward wearing only his underwear and a fleece shirt. His body was found late Tuesday morning about 190 yards from his rural home.

With temperatures around -16°F, Brueggeman died of hypothermia.

"How in the hell can a guy walk out in 20-below zero and not wake up?" asked Sawyer County Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle.

Investigators found a possible answer in Brueggeman's bedroom: a bottle of Ambien. However, they have not determined if he took the medication on the night of his death.

Ambien is the most-prescribed sleeping pill in the country and has been linked to hundreds of cases of sleepwalking. Sanofi-Aventis, which produces the drug, insists Ambien is safe when taken as directed and not mixed with alcohol or other drugs.

Ed Lesniak admitted that his friend, who was plagued with insomnia, sometimes drank when taking the sleep aid.

"He was like a lot of us," Lesniak said. "He'd stop off after work or having a couple throughout the evening and then take a pill to go to sleep."

This wasn't Brueggeman's first dangerous sleepwalking incident. Last summer, he drove his pickup truck into the side of his own garage. Brueggeman's mother had advised him to stop taking Ambien after the incident.

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