EATONTON, Ga. -- Authorities in central Georgia say a 74-year-old woman froze to death after she tried to help her wheelchair-bound husband outside their home.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills tells local news outlets that Maria Riffe died Thursday while her immobile husband laid about 20 metres from her, both unable to help each other.

Eighty-six-year-old Roy Riffe was in a motorized wheelchair going down the concrete walkway at their home when he ran off the walkway and fell out of the wheelchair.

Sills says Maria Riffe, who relied on a walker, fell while trying to help her husband, leaving both helpless.

Investigators say Roy Riffe was likely able to survive the night because he was wearing a jacket and fleece pants. His wife was only wearing a dress.