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Newark Woman On Oxygen Dies After Power Is Turned Off

July 09, 2018 - 12:30 pm
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NEWARK, N.J. (WCBS 880/AP) -- A New Jersey woman is dead after a power company cut the electricity to her home and shut down the oxygen tank she relied on to survive.

Desiree Washington says her mother Linda Daniels, 68, relied on an electric-powered oxygen tank to breathe and died of heart failure Thursday just hours after Public Service Enterprise Group turned off the electricity at her Newark home.

"For her to go out like that was inhumane," Washington said. "We're very angry. Our family wants answers. "

PSE&G released a statement saying they cut off power because of a lack of payments over several months. The agency also said in a later statement that it did not know about the Daniels' medical condition or her oxygen tank.

“As a company we make it a practice to accommodate customers with special circumstances. 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.  We never would have disconnected service had we been informed of the circumstances.  When notified of a medical situation, PSE&G carefully follows all procedures and regulations to ensure the safety of the customer,” the statement said. “When we were contacted after service had been disconnected and were notified that the customer had medical issues, we began the process to restore service.”

PSE&G said there will be a complete investigation, but their records indicated that the account was “severely in arrears.”

“(W)e made at least 26 attempts to notify the customer since January, 2018, including two visits to the residence prior to the disconnection,” PSE&G said.

But Washington says $500 was paid towards her mother’s bill two days before power was cut.

"It was an electronic payment, so PSE&G they had their money right away. My goodness, this isn't about money," Washington said. "They're making it seem like it's about money. That's my mother."

The company claims they were unaware of a medical situation in the home, and they are reviewing their records.

The family insists they did file the paperwork years ago and that the utility knew about the life-sustaining equipment.

Newark Police are continuing to investigate.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)