War veteran, 93, dies after 21-hour power outage cuts off his oxygen machine

A 93-year-old Korean War veteran has lived at the same address in Pittsburgh for 60 years.

Although he is dependent on oxygen, Tom Wraith lives independently and still drives and prepares his own meals.

On Sunday, her daughter Janet Zleriak stayed with her father until 5 p.m. and expected her usual daily call from him on Monday.

But when she didn’t get a call, alarms went off for her and she ran to her father’s house.

A severe storm hit the area overnight and into the morning, cutting power to more than 20,000 residents.

The power outage had cut off his father’s oxygen supply and his worst fears were realized when he arrived at his home on Monday morning.

“I walk into the living room. My dad fell like a pillow. And the oxygen hung from his nose. And I just screamed. I grabbed it, and it was so cold,” Janet said, according to Pennsylvania News Today citing WTAE.

A neighbor told her that her street had been without power for 21 hours.

“This was not necessary. Why would it go off for so many hours? she added.

Due to a lack of power, both his main oxygen system and subsequent portable oxygen units were out of service. Both his landline and cell phone were also turned off due to the power outage.

Now her daughter wants answers from the power company that serves the area.

“There was no reason for her to die,” she said.

Duquesne Light, the power company serving the area, said she had not received any communication from the Wraith family, but added that her hearts go out to them during this difficult time.

“Sunday’s storm was the most severe storm we’ve experienced this year. It impacted our recovery efforts Monday night, leaving widespread damage and additional storm surges throughout our service area,” Wollie Geitner, director of communications for the Duquesne Light Company, wrote in an email.

“More than 250 line workers and field crews worked around the clock to restore power to 20,000 homes and their work continues.”

My heart goes out to Tom Wraith’s family. Rest in peace.

More needs to be done to protect vulnerable people during power outages. Please share if you agree.