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'Knowingly allowed folks to burn up': Families of women who died in sweltering Rogers Park building sue James Sneider Apartments

Families of 3 women who died in sweltering Rogers Park building sue James Sneider Apartments
Families of 3 women who died in sweltering Rogers Park building sue James Sneider Apartments 02:44

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Three North Side women died this month, when the apartment building they lived in left the heat on.

Attorneys for the families said it exceeded 100 degrees in their apartments, when they were found dead. CBS 2's 

Chris Tye reports from the  James Sneider Apartments in Rogers Park, where the city is looking at making some changes.

When those record hot temps Chicago, CBS 2 was told residents asked management to turn off the heat and put on the air.

It never happened.

Three women died because of it. And their families said it's now their focus to make sure it never happens again.

"My mom was laid out there on the bed. Dead. Even then it was hot."

"Somebody did not take the time to find a better way. To take care of our seniors."

Sons of two of the three seniors who died from heat in this tower. One was 72-year-old Gwendolyn Osbourne. Another was 68-year old Janice Lee Reed. Along with Delores McNeely, the three died May 14th at the James Sneider Apartments, which offers lodging for seniors and those with disabilities.

The heat was on, and residents tell CBS 2 when pleas were made to turn it off and turn the air on, the building did nothing.

"I told management I don't want to die in my apartment," said one resident.

Attorneys said temperatures inside the units of the victims exceeded 100 degrees.

While the city does have an ordinance to keep temperatures above 65 degrees this time of year, there's no requirement to keep the heat on.

"To look at what we can do here in Chicago to update our ordinance so no one will misinterpret it again," said Ald. Maria Hadden (49th.)

In a statement, the president of Hispanic Housing Development Corporation which operates the building said "The safety and security of all our residents have always been our highest priority."

"It's kind of hard to believe that statement. You cannot believe that folks knowingly allowed folks to burn up, to heat up, in these units and to not do anything about it. And then to claim safety is their priority. It does not make sense," said Ken Rye, son of Gwendolyn Osborne.

Attorneys for these families indicate the buildings owners and operators, not the city of Chicago, will be named in their lawsuits.


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