Mystery deepens over loner who survived the winter in 'igloo car' in Swedish forest
PETER Skyllberg, the Swedish man who apparently survived more than two months of freezing winter in a snow-covered car had been living in the vehicle since last summer, when he was a regular customer at a local petrol station.
Mr Skyllberg was said by doctors to have endured temperatures of -30C (-22F) as he stayed inside the car through most of December, January and February after it was covered by heavy snow in a forest near the town of Umea in northern Sweden. He was eventually found, apparently emaciated and barely able to move or speak, by passers-by.
Mr Skyllberg was said to have survived on nothing but snow, but investigators believe that he also ate a “salve or ointment” that was found in the car in order to survive. Police initially thought he may have been a nature lover who may have become trapped while on an expedition.
But a local petrol station owner, Andreas Östensson, said that Mr Skyllberg had been living in the forest and sleeping in his car since last summer and that he had regularly come into his store to buy “hot dogs and coffee”.
He said the 44-year-old “loner” was apparently in good health when he had disappeared towards the end of last year.
“He drove here in his car. Sometimes he filled the car and bought hot dogs, bread, cigarettes and coffee,” Mr Östensson said. “He said that he lived in the forest and slept in the car.”
He said Mr Skyllberg never spoke to other customers. “He was kind of odd but always very nice. He talked to me and he was laughing. I got the impression that he had driven through all Sweden, then stopped here and told himself 'this is a good place, I will stay here’,” he told the newspaper Aftonbladet.
“Of course I thought it was odd that he lived in the forest. I was wondering what he was doing all day. But on the other hand he was good looking, used camping clothes, shaved himself and had good hygiene. I knew he was a loner but that he could live in the car for such a long time is difficult to understand.”
Mr Skyllberg, from the central Swedish town of Karlskoga, had allegedly told Mr Östensson that he was from south Sweden and that he had worked as a carpenter but had had to leave the job.
But it has since emerged that he apparently got into money troubles after trying to buy a block of apartments. A local court ordered Mr Skyllberg’s properties be seized after he was unable to pay debts of 1.6?million Kronor (€180,000). He had also broken up with his girlfriend.
A friend of Mr Skyllberg’s claimed yesterday that he had disappered last May with debt collectors on his heels and had not been heard from since.
Police in Umea are baffled as to why Mr Skyllberg apparently did not try to leave his car. While the claim he had survived for 60 days with no food has drawn scepticism, experts say it is possible.
Mr Skyllberg is recovering in Umea’s Norrlands hospital but refuses to talk to the press. Police believe his claims that he lived on snow and confirmed that he had not many hours to live when found.
He has not been in contact with his family for many years. “I have no information about him. He stopped contacting the family 20 years ago,” his father said.