Peoria woman, 52, dies from excessive heat after electricity shut off earlier this month
Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood says a Peoria woman was found dead in her apartment after extreme heat exacerbated the effects of pre-existing, chronic medical conditions.
The Peoria Police Department and coroner’s office arrived at an apartment complex at 3415 Oakcrest Drive around 11:30 a.m. Thursday. A building manager had called to report the body of 52-year-old Henrietta Moore.
Officials found Moore in her apartment and she was pronounced dead at 12:07 p.m.
Harwood cannot specify what conditions led to Moore’s death due to HIPAA regulations. But he said there’s a wide range of illnesses made worse by excessive heat.
“Particularly respiratory illnesses, cardiac disease, renal disease, liver disease, things like that,” he said. “And then you add a heat insult to that where you can't remove yourself from that environment, it's going to be detrimental.”
There’s no foul play suspected or indication of trauma in Moore’s death.
“We don't think she would have passed away had it not been for the exacerbation of the heat and the implication of the heat on her body,” said Harwood, adding the power from Moore’s apartment was reportedly disconnected earlier this month.
He said Ameren notified the building manager her apartment was cut off on July 7, 2023.
Ameren Illinois Communications Director Tucker Kennedy said the utility doesn't do new disconnections during heat advisories or excessive heat warnings from the National Weather Service.
Ameren policy and state law do not have any sort of mechanism in place to restore disconnected service when a heat advisory or warning is announced.
While this week’s heat indices reached over 100 degrees, Harwood said risk factors from being in an uncooled, stagnant apartment with existing medical conditions can start at considerably lower temperatures.
“It's like being in a hot car, how fast the temperature on a car can go up, just being outside in 85 degree heat and how fast that happens,” he said. “Your temperature can go up in the car, you know, to 100 degrees in a matter of 20 minutes.”
If you experience symptoms like headache, light headedness, dizziness, blurred vision, muscle cramping, or profuse sweating, Harwood said to immediately get out of the heat. Rehydrate by drinking water as soon as possible. If you don’t have the ability to do that yourself, he recommends calling 911.
There are cooling centers available in Peoria. City-owned buildings like the police department are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fire stations are cooling centers open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. You also can find a list of local agencies that act as cooling centers here.
If you’re at risk of having your utilities disconnected, you can contact Ameren customer service to learn more about energy assistance programs here, or by calling 1-800-755-5000. You also can find assistance throughHeart of Illinois United Way or Peoria Township.