Woman dies after New Jersey utility cuts off her electricity
16 July 2018
Linda Daniels, a 68-year-old woman who needed an oxygen tank to breathe, died at her home in Newark, New Jersey, after the Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) Company turned off her electricity. The company claimed that Daniels owed $1,500—an alleged debt that it saw as sufficient reason to deprive her power for her oxygen machine. In New Jersey, it is illegal for utility companies to turn off power to customers with medical emergencies.
Daniels is survived by her two children, five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
The criminality of the electric company has provoked outrage among family members and throughout the South Ward of Newark, where Daniels lived. The struggle to keep the power on is acutely felt in Newark, where over 28 percent of the population lives in poverty and the typical family income is just 40 percent the state average.
The power went off at Daniels’s home at about 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 5. As the temperature outside rose to 91 degrees, the home became warmer. Desiree Washington, Daniels’s daughter, arrived at her mother’s house after the power was cut and found the heat difficult to bear. “I’m ex-military, but I couldn’t even take a breath,” she told the New York Times. Daniels was frightened and gasping for air. To keep her mother cool, Washington applied ice packs to her sides and fanned her.
Many members of the family called PSE&G shortly after the power was cut off and continued to call throughout the day, begging for the power to be restored. They told the company that Daniels had congestive heart failure and needed oxygen. PSE&G said that they would send a truck, but none…