Woman dies after blackout cuts life support

Gloria Shea died on life support during a power outage. Picture Nine 2.JPG
A great-grandmother has died after a blackout switched off her life support. Picture: Nine

An elderly woman has died after an unexpected blackout switched off her life support in the middle of the night.

After making the terrifying realisation, her son rushed out the door of his Dubbo home in central west NSW and ran just 100m to her house but was too late to save her.

Gloria Shea, 80, died in the early hours of May 8.

“We were all sleeping in the main house, there had been a blackout and of course when you’re asleep the power goes out, you don’t really notice it,” her son Brian told the Today show on Thursday morning.

Gloria Shea died on life support during a power outage. Picture Nine 2.JPG
Gloria Shea, 80 died on life support during a power outage. Picture: Nine

“My grandson rang us and said, ‘Pop the TV is not working’. I tried to turn on my bedside light. There was no electricity.”

Mr Shea found his mother slumped over her bedside drawers.

“It‘s awful. It wasn’t pretty I can tell you,” he said.

He is calling on energy companies to do more to protect customers from going through the same pain.

Gloria Shea died on life support during a power outage. Picture Nine 2.JPG
Her son is calling for changes to how energy operators report blackouts. Picture: Nine

Essential Energy told the family the power was out for less than 40 minutes between 5.07am and 5.45am.

The family say a simple text message after the blackout occurred would have given them enough time to save Ms Shea.

“The trouble is you have an 80-year-old lady asleep in bed, she was probably sound asleep,” Mr Shea said.

“She's gone without oxygen for probably a couple of minutes and then woken up in complete distress (and) realised it’s not working.”

He said if it had happened during the day his mother could have had time to realise she was not receiving oxygen rather than waking from sleep already breathless.

Essential Energy offers support

An Essential Energy spokesperson said a team member contacted the family personally and extended their “deepest condolences” to them.

“We were saddened by the news and have offered support to the Shea family,” the spokesperson said.

They explained the power outage was “unplanned” and was a required safety measure after a nearby power pole started sparking around 5am.

A member of the public called to report the issue and as a matter of public safety, the energy operator “de-energised the local network” and dispatched a field team to repair the power pole.

“The power supply was interrupted twice for short durations and was fully restored approximately one hour after the fault was first reported,” the spokesperson said.

Essential Energy strongly encourage customers who rely on a continuous power supply to operate medical equipment to seek advise from their medical practitioner and have a contingency plan in place.