12th death linked to Hollywood nursing home tragedy after Irma knocked out AC

Linda Trischitta, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Weather News

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A 12th patient of the sweltering Hollywood, Fla., nursing home died Thursday night, according to the Broward Medical Examiner.

Dolores Biamonte, 57, was the latest to succumb to the stifling heat in the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which was without air conditioning for three days after Hurricane Irma swept through the state.

Biamonte had the same symptoms as the other patients who were brought to Memorial Regional Hospital and died, so she is being included in the total deaths linked to the air conditioner failure, the Medical Examiner's Office said. An autopsy was scheduled for Friday.

Among those who died, body temperatures were as high as 109.9 degrees.

Since the first eight victims died Sept. 13, Hollywood police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have launched a criminal investigation into how the nursing home cared for patients; the state has shut down the facility; and legislators have vowed to better protect nursing home patients -- the same promise they have made in the past.

The deaths also have raised questions about Florida Power & Light Co.'s response to a life-threatening situation and have resulted in intense finger-pointing among state, local and utility officials about who is at fault.

The eight people who died on Sept. 13, three days after the storm, were: Albertina Vega, 99; Carolyn Eatherly, 78; Manuel Mario Mendieta, 96; Gail Nova, 70; Bobby Owens, 84; Miguel Antonio Franco, 92; Estella Hendricks, 71; and Betty Hibbard, 84.

In the days after the initial death, three others died: Martha Murray, 94; Carlos Canal, 93; and Constance Alice Thomas, 94.

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