Elderly couple found dead buried under snow

Article Image

If you're stranded in your car in snowy conditions, having the right supplies could mean the difference between life and death. CNN's Jennifer Gray explains what you need to be prepared.

Posted: Dec 16, 2019 4:10 AM
Updated: Dec 16, 2019 4:10 AM

An elderly couple that had been buried in snow in Arizona for an indeterminable amount of time was found dead on Friday, according to a statement from the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

The couple was identified as Ash Fork residents Richard Alexander 74, and his wife, Elizabeth Alexander, 79, the statement said. They were found a few minutes' walk from their own home, according to the man who discovered the bodies. Ash Fork is a rural community west of Flagstaff.

Causes of death for both husband and wife are pending an autopsy by the medical examiner, according to the police statement.

"A PRELIMINARY finding shows no evidence of foul play and a strong likelihood the pair, a man and woman in their 70's, died from exposure to the environment," according to a statement posted on the sheriff office's Facebook page.

The couple's car was found abandoned about one mile away, according to the sheriff's office.

The bodies were discovered around noon on Friday when Michael Haas and his wife Diane drove their pickup truck out of their gate and saw something peculiar, Michael Haas told CNN. His wife thought it was a dead animal, but Haas spotted blue jeans and said, "I think it might be a body," he recalled to CNN.

The couple drove forward and stopped 25 yards away. Haas said he realized there were two people — a male and a female — laying there on top of mostly melted snow. The woman was laying on her back and the man was on top of her but tilted slightly at a 75-degree angle.

"The whole situation was odd to begin with," Hass said, pointing to the strangeness of a seemingly unresponsive elderly couple laying on his property. The land is an open field and cows graze the area, but it's private property, Haas said.

Haas said he and his wife refrained from touching the bodies and called 911. The deputy sheriff arrived and secured the area with investigators and a medical examiner arriving about an hour later, he said.

Haas and his wife said they believe the couple was covered by snow for an entire week. The sheriff's office has not confirmed the length of time, but they are working on a timeline to accurately assess when the Alexanders attempted to reach safety.

"It is possible snow kept their bodies from view for a period of time," police confirmed in the statement.

Haas said the Friday after Thanksgiving brought a foot of snow and the temperature was zero degrees. He theorized that the couple's car got stuck in snow a mile from Haas's house and they tried to walk to escape the cold.

"My house was the only light they could see," Haas said. "They tried to make it to our house and made it within 100 yards."

Other residents in the area had seen the couple's abandoned car for about a week and wondered why it had not yet been towed, Haas said.

Haas said he and his wife have now put together an emergency kit for each of their cars.

"I think when people travel and it's in bad weather, they should have blankets, phone chargers, emergency equipment in their vehicle," he said.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 106622

Reported Deaths: 4077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles516782294
Riverside7486323
San Diego7100260
Orange5923145
San Bernardino5034199
Alameda319595
Santa Clara2707140
San Francisco247341
Kern207637
San Mateo206184
Tulare184484
Fresno165832
Santa Barbara163612
Imperial163427
Contra Costa140437
Sacramento137356
Ventura106232
San Joaquin85834
Kings7143
Stanislaus68328
Sonoma5314
Solano50922
Monterey47710
Marin43614
Merced2807
San Luis Obispo2691
Yolo20723
Santa Cruz2062
Placer1999
Napa1113
Humboldt983
Madera982
San Benito852
El Dorado840
Del Norte440
Butte440
Sutter422
Nevada411
Shasta374
Mono351
Mendocino300
Yuba291
Lake230
Inyo201
Mariposa161
Calaveras150
Glenn140
Amador100
Siskiyou70
Colusa50
Lassen50
Tuolumne40
Plumas40
Tehama41
Alpine20
Trinity10
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Chico
Broken Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 66°
Oroville
Broken Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 74°
Paradise
Broken Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 66°
Chester
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 59°
Red Bluff
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 63°
Willows
Broken Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 66°
Rain showers and a good chance for thunderstorms are on the way for your Friday night and Saturday forecast. We'll also be much cooler and have gusty South winds this weekend. Some showers are possible early next week, but dry and warmer weather returns for the middle of next week.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events