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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Elderly disabled man Dies After Electric Co. Cuts Power

Utility Companies Charge waaay too much for their services. It isnt uncommon to fall behind with those bills. Everyone does. This time however one power Companies attempt to show whos the boss, To throw their weight around, cost a man his life!

" When Richard Howerton brought his terminally ill father John home from a nursing home earlier this month, he knew his 86-year-old dad would die soon.

But not the next day. And not because Lakeland Electric would cut the power at Howerton's home in Kathleen.

Utility records show that Richard and Joyce Howerton were cut off because they were behind on their bills.

John Wesley Howerton had emphysema. He had been living with his wife, Rachel, in Mulberry, but she broke a vertebra in her back in mid-May. She tried but could no longer care for her husband.

Family members took Howerton, who was under hospice care, to a nursing home in early June. When Richard Howerton learned within a day or two that his father was in the nursing home, he would not have it. He said he knew his father dreaded the thought of dying in a nursing home.

So Howerton brought his father to his house at Meadow Grove Trial in Kathleen to live out his final days. John Howerton arrived at his son's home about 4 p.m. on June 13, a Monday.

The old man was placed on a huge, adjustable bed in the living room. And he was hooked to an electrically powered apparatus that forced oxygen through his nostrils, a machine that he depended upon to breathe.

The next day, the power went out a few minutes after noon. And so did John Howerton's oxygen.

Howerton said his dad began to struggle for breath. Howerton said he was extremely upset as he hooked up a back-up oxygen machine that did not need electricity. Howerton said the machine was useless because his father could not inhale, which was necessary for the machine to work.

The Howertons say a simple knock on the door to warn that the power was being cut off could have changed everything.

Utility workers who cut people off say such a warning would considerably cut into their productivity...."

Richard Howerton said he was declared disabled last year, with lung cancer, and can't work. Joyce Howerton said she cleans houses for a home health care agency, but broke her hip in late February and returned to work a few weeks ago.

A May 27 bill showed a balance of $384. Of that balance, $181 had to be paid by June 13 "to avoid disconnection."

Lakeland Electric records show that a $185 payment was posted on June 16, two days after John Howerton died.

Joyce Howerton said she paid the bill over the Internet, via the utility's "CheckFree" online option, on June 12 - two days before John Howerton died. She said an online prompt told her that the payment would be posted in two days, but it took four.