Saturday, October 12, 2019

Pollock Pines Family Says Man Died When Oxygen Tank Lost Power during PG&E Shut-Off


Posted 1:43 PM, October 11, 2019
by Doug Johnson
Updated at 05:21PM
October 11, 2019


POLLOCK PINES -- The family of 67-year-old Robert Mardis Sr. believes he would still be alive if PG&E didn't shut off their power this week in Pollock Pines.

"He had health issues," Mardis' daughter, Marie Aldea, told FOX40. "He had really bad COPD, which didn't help, and he had congestive heart failure and other health issues, but the power going off and him not being able to get to his oxygen is, I believe, is what did it."

Knowing the risks of having power shut off, Aldea says her family was prepared with battery-operated equipment.

Mardis' family says he was asleep when his electric oxygen tank lost power during PG&E's Public Safety Power Shut-Off.

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

But early Wednesday, Aldea says her family was jolted awake.

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

Family members performed CPR on Mardis, but responding paramedics pronounced him dead. Aldea says her father's health issues didn't help, but she believes part of the blame is on PG&E.

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

Aldea 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, which she believes could have been avoided with power.

"He'll never see my kids get married, he'll never see his grandchildren. How do you fix that? You don't. You can't," Aldea said. "Something got taken away from me that I can never get back, and I will miss my father forever."

The utility shut off power for millions of people in Northern California as a precaution during windy and dry weather conditions similar to what has fueled catastrophic wildfires in the past.

PG&E issued a statement later Friday:

We have no information on the incident and have not been able to confirm the accuracy of the report. We refer you to local officials in El Dorado County.

Late Friday afternoon, the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office determined the cause of death as severe coronary artery atherosclerosis. However, the sheriff’s office did not say whether or not the power going out played a factor in his death.

This is a developing story.

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