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Couple Disoriented on Wintry Day

January 20, 1999

PAINESVILLE, Ohio (AP) _ Tom Benner remembers the fear of the 86-year-old woman who showed up at his tavern in the bitter cold, wondering where she and her husband could find a hospital.

``She told me she and her husband had already been driving for more than six hours,″ Benner said Tuesday. ``I told her to wait while I call for some help.″

A few minutes later, he found Betty Schneider outside, walking in the parking lot of the Gallop Inn, looking for her 90-year-old husband, Nicholas.

He was later found in his car Friday night, killed by a fire that began after the car crashed into a snow pile that may have blocked the doors. The fire began in a front-seat floor area that has electrical wiring for the door, air bag and heater of the 1999 four-wheel drive Subaru.

Painesville Fire Capt. Ken Takacs said there was no evidence of foul play. ``He was an elderly gentleman who got disoriented,″ he said.

The Schneiders apparently headed out Friday to go to a doctor’s appointment, but got lost and wound up miles from home. The weather was well below freezing and roadways were still icy from a winter storm.

The Schneiders, who live in the Cleveland suburb of Parma, eventually pulled into the Gallop Inn about 6 p.m.

Mrs. Schneider, alone and frightened, walked into the tavern about 10 miles from Parma and found Benner.

``She said to me, ``My husband’s gone!‴ Benner said. ``That was the closest she came to crying. You could tell she was devastated.″