Peggy Frank had worked as a carrier for the U.S Post Office for 28 years. At age 63, she’d started planning for her upcoming retirement, her family told KTLA.
“Now she can’t,” Lynn Calkins, her sister, told the station. Frank died Friday after being found unresponsive in her mail truck on her route during a blistering Southern California heat wave.
It was her first day back at work after months recuperating from a broken ankle, KTLA reported.
Temperatures reached a high of 117 degrees that day in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles where Frank died delivering mail in her post office truck, which did not have air conditioning, reported KCBS.
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The National Weather Service had issued an excessive heat warning Friday for the region.
Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office told The Los Angeles Daily News that paramedics tried to revive Frank after she was found, but she was pronounced dead at 3:35 p.m.
Winter declined to say whether Frank had died of a heat-related illness, telling the publication Monday that an autopsy has been completed but further tests are needed.
Frank’s family, which told KTTV that Frank had suffered heat stroke on the job last summer, believes the extreme heat Friday contributed to her death.
"She was a good person," Calkins, her sister, told the station. “She wanted to do it right and she wanted to do a good job.”
Calkins told KTTV the post office should do more to protect carriers from the heat.
“I want them to realize what it's like and they need to do something,” she said.
Evelina Ramirez, a spokesperson with the U.S. Postal Service, told the Daily News that “safety is our top priority for all of our employees” and said carriers received safety training for working in extreme conditions.
Co-workers at the Woodland Hills Post Office recalled Frank as an upbeat dog-lover who worked hard despite health challenges, reported the publication.
“She was a sweetheart – always happy, even when she wasn’t feeling good,” said co-worker Cindy Pritchard.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into Frank's death, reported The Whittier Daily News.