8-year-old among 7 new heat-related deaths in St. Louis; city vows improvements

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by John Knicely / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on July 9, 2012 at 10:32 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 10 at 9:18 AM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Yogi Bear was on TV and it wasn’t like 8 year old Altamesa Dobson to sleep through Yogi Bear. 

The little girl wasn’t expected to live past three with her debilitating health issues, but her family says she loved watching cartoons from her wheelchair. 

On Friday she didn’t wake up when her mother wheeled her in front of the TV.

“(Her mother Angie) checked her pulse and they noticed there was nothing there,” said Pamela Murray, Altamesa’s grandmother.  “And Angie called me Momma, and I’m like, ‘no, no, no. Don’t tell me, no.’”

Altamesa lived with her mother at the housing authority apartments at 3500 Franklin near Grand. Two rooms in the apartment have working air conditioning, but Altamesa’s room does not. 

She slept in a medical bed in that room and the family would bring her into air conditioned rooms during the day.

St. Louis City Health Director Pam Walker says many of the heat victims had access to air conditioning. She says half of the 10 people who died from the heat actually refused help. Walker also added the heat wave could have been more deadly if not for the city’s house calls to those on the heat danger registry.

“So I do believe we are saving lives in comparison to a similar event in 1980 when we had 153 deaths,” said Walker. “But we are reviewing everything we’ve done over the last couple weeks and we will be making improvements.”

Walker says none of the people who died in this heat wave were on the city’s registry. She says they need to get together with community partners to add anyone at risk to the registry. And she says families need to communicate to their elderly loved ones the importance of using air conditioning during a heat wave.

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