Peggy Frank was planning to retire soon from the U.S. Postal Service after nearly three decades on the job, but instead the 63-year-old was found dead in her delivery truck this week after delivering mail during a scorching heat wave in Southern California.
Frank, a longtime employee of U.S. Postal Service, was delivering mail last week when temperatures reached close to 120 degrees, Fox News noted. Later that afternoon, the woman was found unresponsive in her truck near Woodland Hills, and paramedics could not revive her.
The Sacramento Bee reported that the truck did not have air conditioning, and that temperatures in the Los Angeles neighborhood where she worked reached a dangerous 117 degrees.
Family members said Frank had just returned to work after being placed on medical leave for breaking her ankle, and they believe she may have suffered from exhaustion or heat stroke after delivering mail in the extreme heat. Peggy’s son said her mother also suffered a heat stroke last summer.
Family said Peggy was not the type of person to shirk on her duties and may have felt obligated to finish her mail delivery despite the heat wave.
“She loved what she did because she loved the people…I don’t think they realize what kind of job that it is….it is not an easy job,” Frank’s sister, Lynn, told FOX11. “She was a type of person where she wanted to do it right and she wanted to do a good job.”
Frank’s death is one of several being attributed to the heat wave that has hit Los Angeles in recent days. The extreme temperatures also led to widespread power outages as the electrical grid was stretched to its capacity.
“Friday’s record-setting heat led to unprecedented peak electricity demand,” noted the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (via CNN). That left power crews working overtime to restore power to the tens of thousands of customers who lost it due to the heat wave.
There were more than 15 million people under excessive heat warnings over the weekend as temperatures near the coast topped 100 degrees and inland areas — including where Peggy Frank had her mail delivery route — reached close to 120 degrees.
Though Peggy Frank loved her job, some family members hope that her death will prompt the U.S. Postal Service to alter guidelines for delivering mail during extreme heat. Her death is also under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.