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Family Blames Power Outage For Death Of East New York Woman

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - There were conflicting claims Sunday night about whether a power outage was to blame for a woman's death in Brooklyn.

Officials say 46 buildings in the Spring Creek Towers apartments in East New York, formerly known as the Starrett City housing development, lost power around 5 a.m. Sunday morning.

57-year-old old Elizabeth Ramos's daughter, Ashley, says she was sleeping next to her mother when the power went out in their 16th floor apartment. She didn't want to show her face on camera, but says she heard emergency warnings from two machines Elizabeth relied on to breathe. By the time first responders arrived, her mother was dead.

The family says Elizabeth suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, for years. Officials say it appears the power outage did not cause her death, but her family insists her machine was powered by electricity. They say she was alive when they called 911, but had died by the time an ambulance arrived.

"She even mentioned 'I'm scared one way the power can go out and I can die,' and look what happened," Ashley said. "That's exactly what happened."

Both the FDNY and NYPD say Ramos' death didn't appear related to the outage. Still, family members say Elizabeth always feared dying in a power outage and had repeatedly asked the building's management to move her to a lower floor in recent years. They add management told her she wasn't allowed to have a backup generator.

Five people were rescued from among the 100 elevators throughout the apartment complex, said Deputy Fire Chief Michael Ajello.

Four residents were transported to Brookdale Hospital for evaluation, according to the Spring Creek Towers management. It took five hours to restore power completely to the complex, which houses thousands of people and has its own independent power plant outside the management of Con Edison.

"I didn't have no lights, no water, no nothing. So I had to walk all the way down, from the ninth floor all the way down," resident Joe Elliott said.

Spring Creek Towers was acquired by the Brooksville Company in May. The company said in a statement Sunday it had back-up generators ordered when the outage occurred on Sunday and the first phase of a $40 million improvement to the power plant is scheduled to start in September.

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