Eatonton Woman Freezes to Death with Helpless Husband Nearby

- A Putnam County woman died last week  with her husband roughly 20 yards from her, both unable to help each other.

Investigators with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said Maria Riffe, 86, froze to death after she tried to help her wheelchair-bound husband, 74-year-old Roy Riffe, outside their Eatonton home.

Mr. Riffe was going down the concrete walkway at their home the evening of January eleventh  when he ran off of the walkway and fell out of his wheelchair. Putnam County Sheriff 's Lieutenant Tracey Bowen said, "According to Mister Riffe as best we can gather about five-thirty, quarter to six he was coming up to the house from the workshop and that's when his wheelchair ran off the sidewalk and he flipped over."

Lt. Bowen said, Mrs. Riffe  who was frail and relied on a walker, fell while trying to help her husband, which left them both helpless. "He (Mr. Riffe) said he called out to her and it could have been that she could have heard him.  She went out with her walker.  He told her to go back in the house to call someone because she had on just a regular thin housecoat and when she turned with her walker to go back in the house it appears she lost her balance and she fell off the sidewalk."

Mrs. Riffe was found dead the next  morning  with her immobile husband nearby. Investigators said Mr. Riffe was likely able to survive the night because he was wearing a jacket and fleece pants. His wife was only wearing a dress. 

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