Madison County Coroner Stephen P. Nonn is investigating the deaths of a 63-year-old Troy woman and a 66-year-old Alton woman.
Both may have died as a result of not being able to receive supplemental oxygen from electrically powered oxygen concentrator units, which were rendered inoperable after power was lost at both women's homes during Thursday's winter storm, according to Nonn.
Sandra K. Brinker, of the 70 block of Wild Horse Court in Troy, was found unresponsive at her home and taken by ambulance to Anderson Hospital where she was later pronounced dead at 10:18 a.m. Thursday, according to Nonn. Brinker lost power to her residence at approximately 8:10 a.m. Thursday.
Shirley A. Spruill, of the 2500 block of Locust Street in Alton, was pronounced dead at home at 5:07 p.m. Thursday, Nonn said. Spruill's residence lost power about 4:15 p.m. Thursday afternoon when her home lost power after a tree fell and struck a transformer near her residence.
Nonn said both Brinker and Spruill suffered from pre-existing and chronic medical conditions that required them to receive supplemental oxygen from electrically powered oxygen concentrator units which were rendered inoperable after the power failure.
Nonn said it has not been concluded if the loss of the supplemental oxygen source is responsible for the deaths because each woman had an extensive medical history; autopsy findings show their natural disease process could be responsible for their deaths.
"The fact that we had two very similar deaths occurring in two locales under similar circumstances demands public attention as Madison County has a considerable special needs population of people who are in a similar health state and would may also be vulnerable during a power failure or other disaster that would cause a disruption in normal services," Nonn said in a released statement.
"I would advise that any family who has a relative who is medically dependent on electrical power to their home or is bed confined or mobility impaired and may find it difficult to evacuate or escape their home to give some thought to personal emergency pre-planning for winter storms and other emergencies. Notification to their community's first responders is a good, first step."
Funeral services for Brinker are under the direction of Hutchinson Funeral Home in Florissant, Mo.
Funeral arrangements for Spruill are incomplete but are under the direction of Harrison Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Alton.