West Valley pair freezes after car gets stuck
Emery deputy finds their bodies on snowy road
An elderly West Valley couple apparently froze to death after their car became stuck on a snowy road in eastern Utah.
An Emery County sheriff's deputy followed a set of tracks in the snow and found the bodies of Elton Reed Palmer and his wife, Loafae, both 74.
Emery County Sheriff Lamar Guyman said the Palmers had been attending an LDS missionary farewell for a niece in Orangeville on Sunday and decided to drive their Cadillac home on state Route 29.
However, portions of the road through Joes Valley are gravel and impassable during the winter. The snow is about 4 feet deep, Guyman said.
"The car was just stuck in the road," the sheriff said Wednesday.
On Monday, a person visiting the area for recreation spotted the car and called police. A Forest Service officer checked the license plate number and found it was registered to the Palmers. West Valley police went to their home but didn't find anyone.
On Tuesday, a deputy found tracks in the snow leading away from the Cadillac and followed them for several miles just over the border into Sanpete County. Loafae Palmer was found about three miles west of the car. Her husband, Elton, was found about a half-mile from her.
"They were in the middle of the road," Guyman said Wednesday. "They attempted to walk, it appears, to Ephraim."
Ephraim is about 30 miles away. The sheriff said it appears the couple had turned around to go back to their car when they died of exposure.
"They were neither one dressed for the very cold weather," he said.
Deputies do not believe the couple had a cell phone to call for help.
Susan Rivers, one of the Palmers' four daughters, told KSL-TV she was comforted by the fact her parents died together.
"We had always talked about how hard it would be if one had gone before the other, you know? So at least they went together, and so we don't have to worry about that," she said. The Palmers had health problems related to age.
Reed Palmer was retired and helped neighborhood children fix their bicycles. He served as a state representative from 1979 to 1983, when he ran for a West Valley City Council position and lost. More recently, Palmer has been a public safety advocate for those living in the Academy Park subdivision. He was active on homeowner association boards and in the PTA when his children were young.Loafae Palmer, Rivers said, was an artistic woman who painted.
Contributing: Wendy Leonard E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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