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Woman on Oxygen Tank Dies After Utility Cuts Electricity

Great-grandmother Linda Daniels was in hospice care in New Jersey for congestive heart failure
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2018 5:33 AM CDT
A PSE&G employee reads the meters at a building on May 3, 2018, in Belleville, NJ.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(Newser) – At 10am on Thursday, Linda Daniels' oxygen tank stopped; by 4:30pm, she had drawn her last breath. The reason for the New Jersey great-grandmother's death, per her family: PSE&G turned off her electricity due to an unpaid bill. Per NJ.com, relatives of Daniels, who was in hospice care due to congestive heart failure, say she struggled to breathe after the utility company cut off power and her oxygen tank and air conditioning shut down; this despite multiple family members calling PSE&G throughout the 90-degree day. When her backup oxygen tank ran out, paramedics arrived with oxygen from a portable tank; an hour after that crew left, the Newark woman passed away, reports News 12 New Jersey. "She was trying to catch her breath. … She was gasping until the time she died," her granddaughter, identified simply as Mia, tells NJ.com.

A PSE&G spokesman concedes Daniels' power was turned off, but it says it hadn't known of her medical issues until Thursday, her account was several months behind, and it had notified her that service would be shut off. But Desiree Washington, Daniels' daughter, says they'd informed the company of her mother's medical issues in writing—the Washington Post notes, per the state's Board of Public Utilities, a utility can't shut off electricity to a residence if a "valid medical emergency" exists—and family members showed reporters a copy of a statement showing a $500 payment had been made Tuesday. Per ABC 7, Daniels' balance as of May 29 was about $1,800, with at least two other payments made to pay off the bill. Daniels' power returned Friday morning. "It's so sad she had to go like that," Washington tells NJ.com. "And I don't want it to happen to anyone else." (Read more New Jersey stories.)

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