Man dies at Ralston Towers, Columbus' first heat-related death o - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Man dies at Ralston Towers, Columbus' first heat-related death of summer

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)
Charles Hart, second from left. (Source: Family) Charles Hart, second from left. (Source: Family)
The thermostat reads 98 degrees in the apartment of Charles Hart. (Source: Chandler Morgan/WTVM) The thermostat reads 98 degrees in the apartment of Charles Hart. (Source: Chandler Morgan/WTVM)
(Source: Chandler Morgan/WTVM) (Source: Chandler Morgan/WTVM)
Heat-related deaths in 2016. (Source: WTVM) Heat-related deaths in 2016. (Source: WTVM)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – A person has died at the Ralston Towers in Uptown Columbus, the Muscogee County Coroner’s Office confirms this is the first heat-related death this summer in Columbus.

The victim has been identified as 62-year-old Charles Hart, and Muscogee County Chief Deputy Coroner Freeman Worley says the death was a health-related issue aggravated by the heat.

Worley says management found Hart lying on the bed in his room that the temperature in the man’s room was 98 degrees.

Family members are giving us an inside look at what they say are extreme conditions inside a man's apartment at the Ralston Towers in Uptown Columbus who died from heat-related conditions, that's according to the coroner's office.

Residents who live there say they have been without air conditioning for days.

“I don't even know how he was breathing. I don't even know,” said Regina Draut, Charles Hart’s sister-in-law.

Sister in law, Regina Draut, is mourning the loss of her family member 62-year-old Charles Hart after the Muscogee County Coroner's office confirmed he died in his severely overheated apartment in the Ralston Towers this evening.

“I went into his room and it was 98.6 degrees,” said Muscogee County Chief Deputy Coroner Freeman Worley.

Draut says her brother in law did have some medical conditions and the deputy coroner believes the heat was a contributing factor in his death.

“He did have COPD he had some health problems he had got down real small,” Draut said.

In exclusive footage, you'll only see on News Leader 9, Draut gives us an inside look at Harts apartment, showing the extreme conditions residents have been living in, including rooms without air-conditioning for at least three days, according to resident Ricky Talley.

Residents of the Ralston Towers say they have been suffering in these dangerous conditions for too long.

“First of all, unsafe conditions were living in unsanitary conditions. They're not repairing the air-conditioning. They keep coming up with these lame excuses of not doing it. So just shut them down,” said Ralston Towers resident Ricky Talley.

"It’s sad that he had to die like this,” Draut said.

We've reached out to the management of Ralston Towers for comment on Harts death along with the conditions residents say they are living in but they refused to speak to us.

Management at the Ralston Towers has also been facing code violations regarding their fire alarm systems in the building. City officials recently issued an extension until next month to fix the problem.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson weighing in on the heat and how everyone should be in a safe place. She released the following statement: 

We are troubled by this loss of life that appears to be heat related. We have and will continue to strive to ensure that all citizens of Columbus have a safe and inhabitable place to lay their head. The Ralston is no exception, and we will continue to enforce the law and see that the Ralston complies with it.

Last summer News Leader 9 reported two heat-related deaths.

The first happened on July 27 when 54- year old Barbara Sternberg was found dead in Midtown Medical Center's west parking lot, formerly Doctor's Hospital. Officials say she died from hyperthermia in 90-degree weather after fainting inside her car.

A week later, 31-year-old Robert Durham died August 5th, 2016 on Wagner Drive in Columbus. Police say he may have passed out in his car with no air conditioning.

[RELATED: What you need to know to stay safe in the summertime heat]

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