A New Jersey woman on oxygen dies after the power company shuts off her electricity
Carma Hassan, CNN
(CNN) — A New Jersey grandmother who depended on an electric-powered oxygen tank to breathe died hours after power was cut off to her home, family members say.
The family of Linda Daniels, 68, acknowledge they were behind payments on the PSE&G power bill. But Daniels’ son showed CNN affiliate News 12 New Jersey bank records showing he paid the company $500 two days before power was shut off last Thursday.
Temperatures that day in Newark, where Daniels lived, were as high as 91.
“We were getting ice and putting ice on her, fanning her, trying to make it cool, but we couldn’t pump the oxygen,” said her daughter, Desiree Washington.
News 12 New Jersey reported that Daniels had been in hospice care since mid-April with congestive heart failure.
Daniels’ cause of death was not immediately available from the Medical Examiner’s office. Newark police say the case remains under investigation.
New Jersey law prohibits utility companies from terminating service to households with a valid medical emergency.
PSE&G said in a statement to CNN that they were “saddened to hear that Ms. Daniels passed away” and that they tried at least 15 times to contact the family about their bill over the past seven months. They also say they were unaware of Daniels’ medical condition.
“Everyone at PSE&G is saddened by this terrible tragedy and we extend our sincere condolences to the family. While there will be a complete investigation of this matter, our records indicate that this account was severely in arrears and we made at least 15 attempts to notify the customer since January, 2018, including two visits to the residence prior to the disconnection,” the company said in the statement.
“We have reviewed our records dating back to 2016 and there is no indication by the customer of a medical condition in the home prior to disconnection,” PSE&G added. “We never would have disconnected service had we been informed of the circumstances.”
Daniels’ granddaughter Armiya Daniels said it was difficult watching her grandmother suffer before her death.
“I know that she would have eventually passed because of her condition but I didn’t know that because the lights went off that she would suffer the way she did,” she told News 12 New Jersey.
Daniels’ son Sam says he is upset and angry.
“I think my mom would have probably still been still alive today if the electric didn’t get cut off,” he said.
The power was restored Friday.