Daily News: Lack of cell phone service in Andes meant a gruesome death for elderly couple

Today's New York Daily News has an in-depth story about a horrific accident that took an elderly couple's lives in the town of Andes last week.

Arthur and Madeleine Morris, a Manhattan couple who owned a vacation home on Woodland Hill Drive in Andes, died near their own property after their car slid off the driveway and over an embankment on the afternoon of Thursday, May 3.

But neither was injured in the crash. New York State Police investigator Alan Ferrara told the Watershed Post this week that Arthur had died of asphyxiation, probably after he tried to get out of the car and slipped. Madeleine walked to a neighbor's house in an effort to get help, but sustained a head wound while walking through the woods, and died of exposure during the night.

The Daily News reports that Madeleine tried to dial 911 on her cell phone nine times:

Nine times, the call would not go through — so the panicked seniors tried to escape themselves, with disastrous results.

Arthur, 88, was smothered trying to crawl out of the Ford Fusion, while brave wife Madeleine, 89, trekked to a road but died of exposure after a rainy night under a tarp.

“What really has me choked up the most is the circumstances they died in,” grandson Jeantet Fields told the Daily News at the family’s upper West Side brownstone.

“Given the lives they lived, they should have had a better way out than that.”

The Morris's deaths were reported in the Catskill Mountain News on Wednesday, May 9.

Daily News reporter Tracy Connor writes colorfully about the Morris's lives: As a teenager, Madeleine was a Christian who helped Jews escape the Nazis in her native France. Connor also talked to many locals in reporting the story, and dug into the vexing issue of why cell phone service continues to be so sparse in the Catskills, despite repeated efforts by local companies and officials to court cell phone providers.

Update, 5/11, 2:20pm: The Associated Press has picked up the Daily News's story, and news of the Morrises' death is now being printed in newspapers across the country. Here it is in the Washington Post.

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Andes