A Bronx father of six was scalded to death in the shower because of a faulty city Housing Authority boiler, his widow claims.
Angel Miller, 40, was home alone with four of his kids in the family’s Hunts Point Avenue apartment in October when he jumped in the shower and at some point, passed out.
His wife of 10 years realized something was very wrong when she texted her older daughter and found out Angel wasn’t answering the kids after up to four hours of being in the locked bathroom with the water running.
Jessica Rivera-Miller, 39, raced home to find Angel unconscious in the tub.
“The door, it was hot. I couldn’t open it. I could feel the heat around my feet,” she said. “When I went to touch him, his skin came off. I just started screaming, crying. … I saw his hand was purple, I already saw he was gone.”
A day later a family friend tested the water temperature in the shower — it was 190 degrees, the widow contends. She said NYCHA inspectors didn’t test the water themselves.
A properly working water heater or boiler should keep temperatures in a safe range near 120 degrees, experts say. The city requires a minimum setting of 120 degrees, as does the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Burn Foundation says most people bathe in 110-degree water.
It takes only one second for 156-degree water to cause a third-degree burn, or 15 seconds if the water is 133 degrees, the Foundation notes on its web site.
NYCHA failed to maintain the boilers in their building and didn’t install an “anti-scalding device” or temperature relief valve in the family’s apartment, allowing Miller to be “exposed to scalding hot water temperatures which caused his death,” according to a lawsuit the family filed Aug. 2 in Bronx Supreme Court against the Housing Authority. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
“I cry every day,” Rivera-Miller said. “I think about every moment that we had because we were always together.”
An autopsy found PCP in Miller’s system at the time of his death. With chronic usage, the drug can stay in a person’s system up to eight days, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The grieving widow admits her longtime love used PCP, or angel dust, but insists he never did so at home or around their children.
Angel Miller, who loaded trucks at the Hunts Point Market, doted on his kids and Jessica, she said.
“My 5-year-old son asks me, ‘Can we have wings so we can go to Daddy?’” She tearfully recalled.
She hopes others check their water temperature. “It could have been my son, my daughter,” she said.
“The safety of our residents is our top priority and we are closely reviewing the allegations in the complaint,” a NYCHA spokeswoman said of the lawsuit.
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