3 dead allegedly due to excess heat at Rogers Park apartment building

CHICAGO — Residents of a Rogers Park apartment building believe the recent deaths of three women are due to a lack of air conditioning throughout the 10-story building.

While the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the cause of their passing, residents of James Schneider Apartments, located at 7450 N. Rogers, say they believe the casualty toll may be higher.

Lorna Barnes told WGN News that she has lived in the building for seven years.

“I have complained since Tuesday when the temperature escalated beyond 90 degrees,” Barnes said. “It took five people dying to get this response.”

Barnes said management would not turn the air on despite her complaints.

The resident says that earlier this week, she called Ald. Maria Haddon (49th Ward). According to Barnes, the alderwoman spoke to management but still, officials did nothing.

The niece of one woman who passed away says her 67-year-old aunt’s apartment exceeded 100 degrees when she stepped inside Saturday morning. 

“The temperature in her apartment was over 102 degrees on the thermostat and while we were there with my aunt waiting on paramedics, police, and the funeral home, there were other people that were finding their relatives deceased as well,” said Theresa Gregorczyk.

She says her aunt Janice lived on the fourth floor. When she didn’t show up for a breakfast date Saturday morning, she was found dead in her bed. 

In an update from the Chicago Fire Department, officials say the temperature in the building has decreased. Firefighters are ventilating the building and blowing cool air inside to help facilitate the cooling process.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot released a statement Saturday night:

“Earlier today, the City of Chicago responded to calls for service that led to the discovery of fatalities in the same residential building. Currently, city representatives from Fire, Buildings, Department of Family and Support Services, and others are on the scene to assist the residents. A unit-by-unit well-being check is in progress by the Chicago Fire Department and city representatives are monitoring building management in switching over the air conditioning for the building. In addition, a cooling bus is available to residents. The investigation into the cause of death remains ongoing. We will continue taking the necessary measures to make sure the residents of the buildings are safe, and we will make sure that building management owns responsibility for the care of its residents. We will provide a further update when more information becomes available. If any residents are experiencing uncomfortably warm temperatures in their buildings, they should call 311, and building management and the City will respond.”

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