An elderly couple has died after they suffered a minor car accident at the end of the driveway of their mountain holiday home - and could not get signal on their mobile phone to call for help.
Arthur Morris, 88, and his wife Madeleine, 89, were driving slowly from their home in Andes, New York after a thunderstorm, when their Ford Fusion skidded into a ditch 60 feet from their front door. The vehicle rolled just 15 feet down an embankment and hit a sapling before coming to a stop - leaving the car with little damage and the driver and his wife unharmed.
But the couple appears to have panicked when they tried to use their phone five times in quick succession - with no luck, the New York Daily News reported.
Deciding to go for help, Arthur, a Julliard-educated music teacher, tried to climb out of the car but fell because of the steep angle of the car. His body became wedged in an eight inch space between the bottom of the door and the ground. His air supply was cut off and he was asphyxiated within 10 minutes.
Desperate for help, his wife, a retired teacher who had survived the Nazi occupation of France, tried to phone 911 and a neighbour but again, it did not work. She left the car - and the phone - and began climbing up the embankment to a dirt road. She walked with a cane and her family told the Daily News she may have slipped and gashed her head.
She came to a neighbour's house, but its occupants had left for vacation a day earlier and she could not get inside. She sheltered under a tarp throughout the rainy night, and died of exposure.
'Had they stayed in the car, they probably would have survived,' grandson Jeantet Fields said. 'They were maybe [60 feet] from home.'
He added: 'Given the lives they lived, they should have had a better way out than that.'
The elderly couple had been married nearly 50 years and were inseparable. Arthur had heart disease and a hernia and Madeleine had had two knee replacements, but they were mentally sharp.
Their car was discovered by turkey hunters the next morning and state troopers found Arthur's body. They found Madeleine two hours later.
The couple used a phone on the At&T network but police said phone service is hard to come by in the small mountain town, which is often plagued with wind and snow.
After struggles with large communications companies, the area hopes a phone tower will go up in nearby Margaretville by next year.
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