The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Twins, 97, died just outside a house after they fell and lay in the cold for hours, police say

The home at 21 Opechee Dr. in Barrington, R.I. (Google Maps)

Ninety-seven years ago, Jean Haley and Martha Williams entered the world together. They died tragically together outside Haley’s home over the weekend, most likely of hypothermia, according to police in Barrington, R.I.

On Friday night, the twins went into town for dinner with their 89-year-old sister, who lives in another home in Barrington.

After dinner, she left the twins at Haley’s home on Opechee Drive about 8:30 p.m. and drove away before they were inside. The sprawling home is somewhat isolated, sitting at the end of the quiet road, where it meets the Hundred Acre Cove.

Investigators think that Williams, of East Providence, R.I., may have fallen in the driveway walking to her car, according to a police statement. Haley may have tripped on a rug in the garage as she tried to enter the house and call for assistance, the statement said.

Haley was left immobile, with the garage door wide open to the harsh weather outside, and her sister still stranded on the driveway. As the night wore on, temperatures dipped to 16 degrees.

It wasn’t until the next morning that a neighbor discovered Williams face down in the driveway. Haley was found in the garage. Authorities arrived at the scene and rushed both women to Rhode Island Hospital in nearby Providence. They were quickly pronounced dead.

Police said they don’t think any foul play was involved. A cause of death has not officially been determined, but authorities said in a statement that the “extreme cold temperatures that evening may have been a factor.”

On Sunday, family members and neighbors, returning from morning church services, gathered around the house in the cold and mourned, the Providence Journal reported.

A man answering the phone at the Barrington home said he was not ready to talk about what happened. Neighbors who were contacted said the same.

According to the Providence Journal, Haley’s husband, John W. “Jack” Haley Jr., who lived at the home on Opechee Drive, died in 1995, leaving behind his wife and three children. He was an Army captain in World World II and was described by the Journal as “instrumental in liberating concentration camps in Belgium.”

In a statement from the Barrington police, Chief John M. LaCross said: “On behalf of the men and women of the Barrington Police Department, our deepest sympathies and condolences are extended to the Haley and Williams’ families during their tragic loss.”

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