The Aquinnah woman who left home during a snowstorm Saturday night to check on a property she caretakes for and never returned likely died on her way back home, state police Sgt. Tom Medeiros said Monday morning.
Authorities believe the victim, Amanda Hutchinson, stopped to do some sewing at a detached garage apartment before she left her home on Evergreen Way to check on a house on Old South Road. Authorities believe Mrs. Hutchinson died of exposure to the cold upon her return home.
Her husband, Steven Hutchinson, believed she stayed the night in the garage apartment, where she frequently spent time sewing, Mr. Medeiros said.
At some point in the night Mrs. Hutchinson walked nearly a mile from her home on Evergreen Way to check on the property for which she was a caretaker. Footprints matching Mrs. Hutchinson’s were found at that house on Old South Road. Mr. Medeiros said she likely “succumbed to the elements” on her way back. The keys to the house were found in her pocket, Mr. Medeiros said.
Because of the snow Mrs. Hutchinson couldn’t drive to the house, said Mr. Medeiros. He also said it was a common route for her to take, but it was a heavily wooded area.
There were no signs of trauma, Mr. Medeiros said.
“Right now [the cause of death] appears to be exposure to cold,” Mr. Medeiros said. “We’re not drawing any conclusions until we get the autopsy results.”
The autopsy is being conducted by the Cape and Islands Crime Prevention and Control unit under the district attorney’s office.
Mrs. Hutchinson was the administrative assistant to the Aquinnah board of health and assistant to the planning board. She was 50 years old.
Aquinnah Sgt. Paul Manning said Sunday afternoon the police received a call from Mrs. Hutchinson’s husband just before 8:30 a.m. Sunday to report he had found his wife in the snow. She was unconscious when Mr. Hutchinson found her and pronounced dead at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital at 10:12 a.m.
Mr. Hutchinson went to look for his wife Sunday morning and followed tracks in the snow through a path that connects Old South Road to Evergreen Way.
Police are still trying to piece together what happened between the time Mrs. Hutchinson left her home Saturday evening to Sunday morning, said Mr. Manning.
The death is under investigation by the state police, but it appears no foul play was involved, he said.
Areas of the Island received as much as nine inches of snow Saturday during a storm that continued from early morning until several hours after dark.