New York

Woman Who Died During Power Outage Relied on Respirator: Family

The complex of nearly 50 buildings that is the largest federally subsidized rental development in the country

What to Know

  • Elizabeth Ramos, 57, died during a power outage at Starrett City, her family says
  • Ramos suffered from COPD and relied on an electric-powered respirator that stopped working during the blackout, her daughter said
  • The FDNY confirmed one person died during the blackout, but said it was likely unrelated, an accusation which angered Ramos' family

A woman who died during a power outage at a massive residential complex in Brooklyn relied on an electrical respirator which stopped working during the blackout, her family says. 

Elizabeth Ramos, 57, suffered from COPD and had been on a respirator since she was 13 years old, her daughter told NBC 4 New York. 

The family disputed the FDNY's suggestion that Ramos may have died from causes unrelated to the blackout. Firefighters said an autopsy was planned, but it was unlikely the power outage contributed to her death. 

Ramos' daughter said she was sleeping next to her mom on their apartment on the 16th floor of Spring Creek Towers when she heard the loud beep of her mother's respirator.

The power went out at 5 a.m. and the respirator runs only on electrical power. 

Her daughter said she immediately tried to help her mother with oxygen from backup tanks, but her mother passed out. 

The family called 911 and performed CPR, but said it took a long time for help to arrive. 

Firefighters said she was not on a respirator when they arrived but she was on an oxygen tank. They said it had appeared she had been dead for some time, but an investigation would determine whether her death was related to the blackout.

The family described Ramos as an animal lover and an advocate for the disabled. 

About 15,000 people live at the complex on Van Siclen Avenue in East New York. Power was restored by 10 a.m., officials at the complex said. 

At least six people were extracted from elevators, officials said. Four residents were taken to Brookdale Hospital for evaluation. 

The complex, which has 5,800 apartment units and operates on its own power generating system, officially adopted the name Spring Creek Towers more than a decade ago, but is often still called Starrett City. The complex of nearly 50 buildings that is the largest federally subsidized rental development in the country.

The community experienced a similar power outage almost exactly a year ago, on July 26, 2017.

Spring Creek Towers also lost power four times in six months spanning 2014-15. 

A planned $40 million overhaul of the power plant is scheduled to begin in September. It will include permanent backup generators. 

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