HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - The deaths of 12 elderly Hollywood nursing home patients who died after Hurricane Irma have officially been ruled as homicides, according to results released by the medical examiner.
“We trusted these people. They’re supposed to be professionally trained to save people’s lives,” said Pedro Franco.
Franco’s parents, Miguel and Cecilia Franco, were married for more than 60 years and were among the 12 patients at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills who died after the storm.
“I demand justice,” said Franco.
The medical examiner released the official cause of death for the Francos and 10 other patients. “Homicide due to environmental heat exposure,” said Miranda Grossman of the Hollywood Police Department.
Patients at the center were evacuated on Sept. 13, and many were sent to the hospital next door.
Officials said the A/C had lost power in the days following Hurricane Irma. Eight patients would die inside the sweltering nursing home and six more would die in the following weeks.
Hollywood Police are now investigating 12 of those deaths as homicides. The investigation confirms what many grieving family members have thought all along.
“I hope that everybody that has responsibility towards those deaths will pay,” said Franco.
Officials said the new details are just the latest step in a lengthy, ongoing criminal investigation.
Police said it is still too early to tell what the results could mean for the nursing home’s staff and administrator.
“[Investigators have] a tremendous amount of evidence to pour through, so at this point we can’t say when we’ll have more information about charges or arrests,” said Grossman.
An attorney for the Francos told 7News that getting the results right before Thanksgiving has made their loss especially difficult.
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