Family blames Brooklyn apartment complex power outage for mother's death

EAST NEW YORK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- With tears running down her face, Ashley Ramos relived the final moment she held her dying mother in her arms. She says she knew exactly what it sounds like when her mother's ventilator shuts off, because the power went out about a month ago.

"It was just like 'BEEP!' Like you heard the sound go off. That's what woke me up," Ashley said.

Ashley says when that alarm went off, her mother, Elizabeth Ramos, 56, was overcome by panic and consumed by fear.

Elizabeth's life depended on her ventilator and oxygen filter.

"I said 'mom, just calm down, you're gonna be okay - the lights went out.' So that's when she started getting anxiety. So she got anxiety and she's breathing fast, you know, so she pees on herself first and she's peeing and I'm like 'it's okay, it's fine' and then she's like 'I need oxygen!'" said Ashley.

Ashley says it was around 4:45 on Sunday morning when the power went off at the Spring Creek Towers in East New York, Brooklyn.

"I started screaming 'my mom's dead!' she said.

Ashley tried everything, including CPR - when she called 911 she said it was too long.

Her mother's cause of death is yet to be determined, but Ashley says it took several hours for help to arrive.

"It seems that person had been deceased for a while, but it's currently being investigated by the medical examiner," says FDNY Department Chief Edward Bobb.

The outage lasted for about five hours at the federally subsidized complex formerly known as Starrett City.

15,000 people were left in the dark. Five were injured and six were trapped in elevators.

The complex has its own power system. Outages are so common that firefighters arrived with a plan.

"We have been here multiple times - we have a pre-plan that we use to operate at this incident," says FDNY Department Chief Michael Ajello

Ashley says they had a plan, too. She says that management would not allow them to use a generator, so they had a backup portable oxygen tank - but it wasn't enough.

"(My mother) was just an amazing woman. She was my best friend. That's it. She was my everything. She was my everything and I was her everything," added Ashley.

A new owner bought the property in May and made plans for a power system overhaul set to start in September.

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