Husband, wife die weeks apart after their Florida nursing home overheated

The facility is the subject of a criminal investigation.

October 09, 2017, 3:53 PM

— -- Weeks after Miguel Antonio Franco died when his Florida nursing home lost air conditioning from Hurricane Irma, his wife, Cecilia Franco, became the 13th person to die from the incident, police confirmed to ABC News today.

Another patient was confirmed to have died, authorities said today, bringing the total to 14.

On Sept. 13, more than 100 residents were evacuated from the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after the facility's air conditioning system failed, subjecting the elderly residents to sweltering heat. The nursing home is affiliated with the Larkin Community Hospital.

Medical staff from Memorial Regional Hospital, which is near the nursing home, described a chaotic scene of evacuating the patients from the nursing home after three came into the emergency room with "extraordinarily high temperatures."

Some of the patients who were admitted to the hospital had temperatures of up to 106 degrees, hospital officials told ABC News. Once hospital staff realized something was amiss at the nursing home, they went into a mass casualty incident mode and began wheeling patients from the nursing home to the hospital on stretchers.

The facility -- which has been shut down -- is now the subject of a criminal investigation. The patients' causes of death have not been released because of an ongoing criminal investigation, ABC affiliate WPLG-TV reported.

The Francos' children last month filed a wrongful death suit against the facility, the family's lawyer, Albert Levin, confirmed to ABC News.

Levin said in a statement to ABC News, "The Franco and Navarro families are now mourning the passing of their mother and grandmother Cecilia Franco, this on the heels of losing her husband of 62 years, their father and grandfather Miguel Franco, both of whom perished in a horrific avoidable tragedy which should never have occurred. Their pain cuts deeply having lost not one but two loved ones."

The lawsuit alleges the facility didn't secure "reliable and effective air-conditioning systems to operate in the event of an inevitable and foreseeable power outage," leaving the patients to suffer "in extreme heat and deplorable conditions," WPLG-TV reported.

Nursing home administrator Jorge Carballo said in an earlier statement that "the center and its medical and administrative staff diligently prepared" for the hurricane.

"We took part in emergency management preparedness calls with local and state emergency officials, other nursing homes and health regulators," he said. "While our center did not lose power during the storm, it did lose one transformer that powers the air conditioning unit. The center immediately contacted Florida Power & Light and continued to follow up with them for status updates on when repairs would be made. Outreach was also made to local emergency officials and first responders.”

ABC News' Dominick Proto, Rachel Katz, Julia Jacobo and Tara Fowler contributed to this report.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events