DORSET, Vt. (NEWS10) – A Vermont woman was found dead outside of her home over the weekend, and it raises concerns for elderly living alone in rural parts of the northeast. NEWS10 visited the woman’s neighbor in Dorset.
Vermont state police say 76-year-old Linda Eliason was found dead on January 21 outside her home around 6:30 Saturday morning.
Gary DuFour, who lives across State Route 30 from Eliason, reflected on who his neighbor was.
“She’s very independent, she was 76 years of age, probably set in her ways,” says Dufour.
DuFour recounted the first time he met Linda.
“I said do you need some help. Yes, help me get out of the car. She had a load of groceries in the backseat area so I helped her out [and] she could barely walk. [I] got her to the house and then I brought the groceries in. And, I’m going to myself, oh my God she can’t go to the grocery store. She wheeled around in a wheelchair in her house,” said Dufour.
Police believe Eliason’s death was an accident and that she fell in her driveway. They say she died from exposure to the cold and winter elements.
“She was out all night lying on the ground. That’s why we hope, we hope she was gone so she didn’t have to realize she’s going to you know freeze to death, but you know going out early evening and falling in the wintertime, you can’t help that,” said Dufour.
Hypothermia can be deadly and Dr. Douglas Girling, Emergency Medicine Physician of Glens Falls hospital explained the complexity.
“There is no kind of typical prediction and how quickly the body is going to freeze per se and the actual temperature of which death occurs is going to be very different for everybody as a wide range of temperatures with some people can have left very low temperatures and do exceeding it well and other people just with moderate modern low body temperatures do very poorly,” said Girling.
Dufour, who also lives alone in this rural part of Vermont, has concerns of his own.
“I feel we all are not doing a really good job checking on people living alone. The elderly, we’ve got to check on them, we’ve got to call them more,” said Dufour.
I have reached out the coroner’s office for an official cause of death and am waiting that response.