PCSO: 2 elderly people found dead in Apache Junction home, possibly heat-related

Posted at 10:33 PM, Jun 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-27 16:51:57-04

The Pinal County Sheriff's Office is investigating two possible heat-related deaths in Apache Junction.

PCSO was called to perform a welfare check at the Palmas Del Sol East senior living community near Ironwood Drive and US 60 on Friday. 

When deputies arrived they discovered Keith and Connie Cox deceased in a home, officials said. 

Preliminary evidence reveals that their deaths could be attributed to the soaring temperatures in the Valley, a PCSO spokeswoman said.

"With this heat, and other medical problems, you get a little bit of dehydration going it's easy to succumb [to the heat]," said Sgt. Phillip LeBlanc with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies discovered that the air conditioning unit would not turn on inside the home. 

"I can't imagine what the temps were inside that residence," Sgt. LeBlanc said. "I know the deputy said it as 109 on the thermometer on his truck."

Residents said the managers of the community are generally very responsive when problems like a broken air conditioner arise.

"I'm just very surprised it can apparently happen very quickly," said George Prentice. "I know a couple other people who's AC has just gone off. They've had to move out for a couple of days until it's repaired and had to bring in big fans."

Authorities and those who live in the community said the incident highlights the importance of checking on family and friends who may be susceptible to the heat, as the deaths are typical for what first responders see in Arizona. According to statistics from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, 67% of all heat-related deaths in 2016 were people who were not considered homeless.

"I try and be outgoing, I recently took one person to emergency room and the next day I took food over to another person in the hospital," Prentice said.

"We need to check on our families, on our friends...make sure they're okay and have contact with us and are responding to us," Sgt. LeBlanc said. "Every day I call my mom. I call her multiple times, and I think that's what we need to do. What's it cost us to contact them and make sure they're okay?"

No additional information was immediately available about the deaths. Authorities have not released the names of the victims.

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