A 68-year-old Newark woman in hospice care, who depended on oxygen to survive, died last week after PSE&G turned off her electricity because of an overdue bill, her grieving family said Sunday.
Linda Daniels was in her Shephard Avenue home with her family for hours after her oxygen tank powered by electricity and air-conditioning stopped working about 10 a.m. Thursday. She died at 4:23 p.m. of heart failure, her family said.
According to Accuweather.com, the temperature in Newark was in the 90s on Thursday afternoon.
“She was trying to catch her breath – she was gasping for air,” said her granddaughter, Mia, 28. “She suffered and she passed right in front of us. She was gasping until the time she died.”
Daniels’ daughter, Desiree Washington, said family members called PSE&G throughout the day, pleading with them to turn the power back on.
“She had just paid $500 two days before,” Desiree said. “And she’s a senior. We asked them, ‘Why are you turning off her electricity at the pole?'”
Linda Daniels suffered from congestive heart failure and depended on her oxygen tank to survive, they said.
“We made numerous calls. We have a large family and everyone in our family was calling,” Desiree said. “They told us they would be rolling a truck. The truck did not come until the next day.”
Mia said at one point the PSE&G operator told her to stop calling.
“They started getting nasty after awhile, telling us they had too many tickets out on this,” she said.
Desiree said she applied ice packs to her mother’s sides and was fanning her throughout the day.
Paramedics were called to the home during the day and gave Linda oxygen from a portable tank, according to Desiree.
“We panicked. They cut the power off on what had to be the hottest day of the summer,” she said.
PSE&G said in a statement on Sunday that service to Daniels’ home was disconnected “due to lack of payment over several months.”
“As part of our policy, PSE&G had notified this customer numerous times that their account was in arrears and that they would be scheduled for a service termination unless the account was made current,” said Jim Namiotka, a company spokesman.
Namiotka said the family had not notified the utility company about medical issues until after the service had been disconnected.
“We are reviewing our records to determine what transpired. We encourage customers who have medical issues to contact us so that we can note their circumstances on their accounts,” Namiotka said.
Desiree, however, says family members and hospice workers in the past had informed the utility company in writing of Linda Daniels’ medical issues.
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SOURCE: NJ.com – Anthony G. Attrino, Alexis Johnson