A 63-year-old postal worker was found dead in her mail truck in Woodland Hills as temperatures pushed toward 120 degrees last Friday, her family members said.
Peggy Frank of North Hills had worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 28 years and was nearing retirement. She had just returned to work for the first time in months on Friday after suffering a broken ankle, according to loved ones.
Frank was pronounced dead at the scene on the 4800 block of Calderon Road after paramedics attempted to revive her, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. The temperature in the neighborhood had reached 115 degrees that day, according to the National Weather Service.
L.A. County coroner's officials said although an autopsy has been performed, Frank's official cause of death is still pending. But - especially because the carrier vehicles have no air conditioning - her family believes it's possible her death was related to Friday's extreme heat.
"I can not believe it because I don't think that it should have happened," said Frank's sister Lynn Calkins. "I'm so sad because she was going to retire soon. Now she can't."
Frank had suffered heat stroke last year during the scorching summer months, Calkins added.
Some of Frank's distraught relatives flew to L.A. from Arizona, still in shock that the vibrant mail carrier - who many neighbors in this Woodland Hills community considered a family member - died so unexpectedly. Calkins places part of the blame on the Postal Service
"They need to start caring about their people a little bit more," she said.
A Postal Service representative said in a statement that it's "been a very challenging time. Our thoughts and prayers are with the employee's family at this time."
The spokesperson added that while mail trucks aren't equipped with air conditioning units, "the safety of employees is always a priority." Workers are reminded every day to stay hydrated, wear appropriate clothing and hats, carry sufficient amounts of water and ice and to stay in the shade as much as possible.
But for Calkins, that's not enough. "They need to change things a little so it happens to nobody else," she said.