1 dead at Columbus apartment complex; several complaints of no A/C

COLUMBUS, Ga. — We’re learning more about the man who found dead Thursday afternoon in Ralston Towers in Columbus.

News 3 happened to be investigating complaints about no air conditioning and hot conditions in the building — when EMS arrived on the scene around 5 p.m. Thursday. We’ve learned the man was found in a room that was nearly 100 degrees.

Chief Deputy Coroner Freeman Worley says management at the apartment complex found 62-year-old Charles Hart dead in oppressive temperatures.

“I went into his room it was 98.6 degrees and we are investigating that death as a heat related death,” says Worley.

Regina Drout, says she can’t believe her brother-in-law died this way.

“This room is 98 degrees and I don’t even know how he was breathing, I don’t even know how he could’ve been breathing. It’s kind of inhumane. It’s inhumane that he had to die like this,” says Drout.

She says she just recently took Hart to the doctor and admits he did have health problems, including COPD. But she says the living conditions made it that much harder for him.

“He’s been living here a few years but he was just a happy guy he wasn’t a guy to complain or anything. It was inhumane how he was living,” says Drout.

Other residents say the fight for air conditioning has been an on-going battle.

“Me myself I’ve been without air going on almost a year and a half,” says Garry Miles, a Ralston Tower resident.

Reporter: “What is management telling you?”

Miles: “They keep saying they are putting in a request and they’ve been working on it.”

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson says the city put the owner of the building on notice back on May 30, after an anonymous complaint that at least 10 to 12 people were living without air conditioning.

“It’s always the responsibility of the owner to arrange for acceptable management and for the owner and the management in conjunction to provide a safe and inhabitable spaces for our citizens to live,” says Mayor Tomlinson.

Tomlinson says the city has given the owner until Monday, July 10 to get the air conditioning fixed or the building would be shut down. News 3 reached out to management at Ralston for comment about the residents’ complaints, but we were told to leave the property.

Mayor Tomlinson says the city spoke with the owner Thursday evening and suggested setting up cooling stations in common areas of the building in the meantime. But she says they’re still assessing the situation and evaluating whether emergency shelters need to be set up.

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