3 dead allegedly due to excess heat in 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 death, residents of the James Sneider Apartments, located at 7450 N. Rogers, say they believe the number of victims may be higher.

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

“I’ve been complaining since Tuesday when the temperature went up past 90 degrees,” Barnes said. “Five people had to die to get this answer.”

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

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

The niece of a woman who died says her 67-year-old aunt’s apartment exceeded 100 degrees when she walked in on Saturday morning.

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

“Management said they weren’t allowed to turn on the air until June 1,” Gregorczyk added. “They said it was a city ordinance, but after speaking with the councilman and the state representative, I found out that it is not.”

He says his aunt Janice lived on the fourth floor. When she didn’t show up for breakfast on 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 dropped. Firefighters are ventilating the building and blowing fresh 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 deaths in the same residential building. Currently, representatives from the city’s Fire Department, Buildings, Department of Family and Support Services and others are on site to assist residents. The Chicago Fire Department is conducting a unit-by-unit wellness check and city representatives are monitoring building management to change the building’s air conditioning. Also, a refrigeration bus is available for residents. The investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. We will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure that the residents of the buildings are safe and we will ensure that the management of the building is responsible for the care of its residents. We will provide a further update when more information is available. If any residents are experiencing uncomfortably hot temperatures in her buildings, they should call 311, and the building management and the City will respond.”

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