A 68-year-old New Jersey grandmother died last week after a company shut off her electricity because of an overdue bill -- which cut off the oxygen tank she relied on to keep breathing, a family member said.
Linda Daniels, who is in hospice care, was in her Newark home on Thursday for hours after her oxygen tank and air-conditioning were shut off around 10 a.m., NJ.com reported. Her family said they were with Daniels pleading with PSE&G to turn on the electricity until the 68-year-old died just before 4:30 p.m. from heart failure.
"She was trying to catch her breath — she was gasping for air," Daniels’ granddaughter, Mia, 28, told the news site Sunday. "She suffered and she passed right in front of us. She was gasping until the time she died."
Desiree Washington, Daniels’ daughter, added that the family made “numerous calls” to the utility company, but its response came too late.
"They told us they would be rolling a truck. The truck did not come until the next day,” Washington said.
Mia added: "They started getting nasty after awhile, telling us they had too many tickets out on this.”
The family said Daniels had congestive heart failure and needed the oxygen tank to survive. On Thursday, temperatures also reached 90 degrees, leading the family members to consistently apply ice packs and fan the 68-year-old to keep her cool.
PSE&G said in a statement to NJ.com that Daniels’ electricity was shut off because of the “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," Jim Namiotka, a company spokesman, said in a statement.
He added that PSE&G did not know about Daniels’ medical condition until after the power was shut off.
Washington said her mother had paid $500 two days before her death and the company knew about the health issues. They also denied there were overdue bills.
"The point is they turned her lights off after she paid the bill," Washington said. "And she's a senior. And there are a lot of people like her."
Washington told NJ.com: "We are horrified. We are angry. My mother was a taxpayer for 46 years. It's so sad she had to go like that. And I don't want it to happen to anyone else."