Woman dies after power cut turns off breathing machine

A power cut on Friday morning stopped the woman's breathing machine from working. Photo / Chris Skelton
A power cut on Friday morning stopped the woman's breathing machine from working. Photo / Chris Skelton

The death of a Taupo woman is being investigated by police, after they were told she died because a power cut switched off her breathing machine.

Police were called to a Rifle Range Rd property at 8am yesterday, after Fai Deane was found unconscious and unresponsive, police confirmed to the Herald.


The 50-year-old could not be revived.

Police national headquarters spokesman Stephen Matthews said this morning the person calling for help indicated a power cut may have been responsible for Ms Deane's death.

"It's been reported to us in that way, that a power cut has caused her oxygen machine to fail.

Police are investigating."

A forensic examination of the property took place yesterday, Mr Matthews said.

Ms Deane's flatmate, Gagandeep Bhangoo, said she had been released from hospital on Monday with a breathing machine to help her. But a power cut on Saturday morning stopped the machine from working, he told media.

Detective Senior Sergeant Matt Cranshaw said in a statement just before 11am a power cut was part of their investigation into the woman's death.

"Police are making enquiries in relation to the power cut in the area where the woman lived and its potential relevance to this investigation."

A Lakes District Health Board spokeswoman confirmed Fai Deane was a patient under its care.

However, she said no further details were available at this stage.

A post mortem was taking place today to establish the cause of her death.

Lines company Unison Networks is responsible for electricity distribution in Taupo.

Their customer care manager Danny Gough this morning confirmed a power cut affected 630 properties in Rifle Range Rd early Saturday morning.

The outage was caused by a car crashing into a power pole at 3.20am. Power was restored to all but 65 properties within 10 to 15 minutes, and to all by about 7.20am.

They could never guarantee power supply all the time, which is why vulnerable customers usually had contingencies in place, Mr Gough said.

He couldn't comment on the circumstances surrounding Ms Deane's death, but they would help police as required."It's clearly a tragic incident and we are going to co-operate fully with the investigation."

In 2007, Mangere woman Folole Muliaga died the same day a contractor to Mercury Energy cut the power to her home. A coroner later found the 45-year-old, who was using an oxygen machine, died as a result of morbid obesity, but also that the loss of power played a part in her death.

Mrs Muliaga's power was cut off because she hadn't paid her $168.40 bill.

Less than a month later, Mercury Energy introduced changes to prevent a repeat of the tragedy, including requiring customers facing power disconnection to receive a personal phone call to check whether there are medical or hardship reasons not to cut off the electricity.

The Electricity Commission, now called the Electricity Authority, also introduced voluntary guidelines - involving electricity retailers, hospitals and GPs - to identify and help protect vulnerable people from electricity disconnection.

- NZ Herald

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