Broward County

Police say 12 deaths in nursing home tragedy are homicides

Police have officially attributed 12 deaths to the sweltering conditions inside The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after Hurricane Irma in September.
Police have officially attributed 12 deaths to the sweltering conditions inside The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after Hurricane Irma in September. Miami Herald File

Twelve people who died in the Hollywood nursing home tragedy after Hurricane Irma have been classified as homicides, Hollywood police said Wednesday.

Police said the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that 12 residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave., had died as a result of “environmental heat exposure,” two fewer than the original total police released.

The deaths of the other two people, police said, weren’t linked to the sweltering heat that ensued when Irma knocked out the air conditioning at the home.

The residents whose deaths police say are homicides are: Carolyn Eatherly, 78; Miguel Antonio Franco, 92; Estella Hendricks, 71; Betty Hibbard, 84; Manuel Mario Mendieta, 96; Gail Nova, 71; Bobby Owens, 84; Albertina Vega, 99; Carlos Canal, 93; Martha Murray, 94; Dolores Biamonte, 57 and Cecilia Franco, 90.

In October, Broward County Chief Medical Examiner Craig Mallak ruled the death of patient Francesca Andrade, 95, was “not caused by conditions in the nursing home,” police said.

On Wednesday, the death of Alice Thomas, 94, was also ruled to not be related to the extreme heat.

Police said the investigation into how and why residents were left for days without air conditioning is ongoing. On Sept. 13, about 140 residents were evacuated.

Several wrongful death lawsuits have since been filed against the now-shuttered facility.

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