Man died when oxygen tank lost power during shut off, family says

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POLLOCK PINES, Calif. -- A California woman is mourning the loss of her father who died during a scheduled shut-off of power by the local utility in northern California, KTXL reports.

It was a move by officials to reduce the risk of wildfire with high winds and dry conditions in the area.

But the Maria Aldea, the daughter of 67-year-old Robert Mardis, says the utility is partly to blame for her dad's death.

"He had health issues. He had really bad COPD. He had congestive heart failure too," Aldea said.

Knowing the risks of a power shut down, she says her family was prepared with battery-operated oxygen tanks for her dad.

"He has his stabilizer and we had the car portable oxygen also," Aldea said.

Until the power went out, she says her father was on his CPAP machine when he slept which needs to be plugged into the wall.

"I went down and checked on him at 11:30 or so and he was sound asleep. The power was still on at that point," Aldea said.

But Wednesday morning, Aldea says her entire family was jolted awake.

"We were all asleep. We heard my mom scream. She was crying. My dad went down in her arms. He was going for this oxygen machine," Aldea said.

Family members performed CPR, but arriving paramedics pronounced Mardis dead.

Aldea admits her father's health problems didn't help, but she says part of the blame is on PG&e, the power company.

"I don't understand why they turned off the power. No winds at all," Aldea said. "And because of this, my father is gone. And blaming them is not going to bring my father back, unfortunately."

She believes her father lost oxygen in his sleep and several minutes passed before he woke up to reach for his back-up tank.

It was within those crucial minutes she believes he died.

"How do you fix that? You don't. You can't. Something got taken away from me that I can never get back," Aldea said.

Friday afternoon, the local sheriff's office said the cause of death for Robert Mardis senior was severe coronary artery atherosclerosis.

However, it was not released whether the electricity shut-off played a factor in his death.

 

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