An elderly woman who relied on an oxygen tank to breathe died after her electricity supply was cut off because of unpaid bills.
Linda Daniels, 68, battled for her life for over six hours before eventually succumbing to heart failure at her home in Newark, New Jersey on Thursday.
Family members pleaded with Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) to reconnect power as she gasped for air, the New York Post reports .
Efforts to resupply the home with electricity was completed at 9am the following day, 23 hours after it had been shut off.
Desiree Washington, Ms Daniel’s daughter, said she had flagged her mother’s condition to PSE&G over two years ago after the sick woman had been placed into hospice care.
“PSE&G kept lying and saying they were coming shortly. And they never came,” Washington said. “They told us to stop calling.”
“She is somebody’s mother…You took a life. Was it worth it?” she said. “God is watching you and you’re not gonna’ get away with anything.”
Ms. Daniels owed the electricity company $1,400 at the time of her death and family members had paid an electronic payment of $500 just two days before she died.
Payments totalling $950 were made to the utility company in the months of April, May and June.
After informing the company of her mother’s passing, Ms Washington claims a PSE&G representative told her:
“Well you owe us $1,400. You have an outstanding bill. If we turn the lights on, we not going to do nothing but come back in seven days and turn the lights off until we get more money.”
In a statement, PSE&G said they were "saddened" by the "terrible tragedy" but said there was “no indication by the customer of a medical condition in the home.”
“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,” PSE&G said.
Newark Police Department and the Board of Public Utilities are investigating the circumstances of the tragic incident.
Under New Jersey law, it is unlawful to withdraw utilities to customers who are suffering from medical emergencies.
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