CHICAGO — The lawyer representing one of the families in the Rogers Park senior living facility casualties spoke out Monday about emergency calls from the building that warned of excess heat and the plausibility of causalities.
Attorney Megan O’Connor says she first heard of the calls following a WGN News report and that transparency about what happened the night of May 14 – and did not happen – is needed.
Last week, WGN News aired emergency calls to the city in the days before first responders found the bodies of three women inside their apartments at the James Sneider building in Rogers Park. Residents said a lack of air conditioning caused their deaths.
One of the pleas for help came from Dr. Demetra Soter, who on May 12, warned of excess heat at the senior home.
“One of my patients is in city building 7450 North Rogers… it’s over 90 degrees, 95 degrees yesterday, today, it’s already 90 and they are refusing to turn on the air conditioning. I just want it noted that her doctor called in cause if anything happens to her…”
While Soter’s patient was OK, ultimately, she chose to speak with O’Connor, who represents Gwendolyn Osborne’s family. The accomplished journalist was one of three women found dead. Her family is seeking transparency about what exactly led to what they believe were brutal and preventable deaths.
“This is the most horrible way someone could die,” O’Connor said. “The physician I spoke with said these women were likely baked to death and that is a horrific way to die.
“This is one of the worst situations we’ve ever seen at this firm of just ignoring repeated cries for help in a dangerous situation.”
WGN News received a statement Monday from Osborne’s son, Kenneth Rye. He stated, “This is egregious that they would torture senior citizens by not responding to their complaints about the extreme heat. This was a complete lapse in common sense that traumatized an entire senior citizen facility and resulted in the death of three—including my mother. This is despicable and should never happen EVER again.”
Multiple residents told WGN News that management at the building – the Hispanic Housing Development Corporation – miscited a city ordinance that stated they couldn’t switch on the air conditioning until June 1. While such a city ordinance does exist, requiring heat to be provided between Sept. 15 and June 1, it doesn’t state air conditioning can’t be switched on as needed.