Woman dies as oxygen feed ignites
By ROBIN STEIN
Published February 3, 2007
CLEARWATER - A 76-year-old woman died Friday morning after her cigarette sparked a fire from her oxygen feed, authorities said.
Barbarba Foisey's death came just three weeks after her caretaker and husband of almost 50 years died of a cardiac arrest.
Foisey, who had several pulmonary problems, had reluctantly moved into the Sunset Villa Retirement Home on Monday, her children said Friday.
"She was very angry at him for dying before her," said her daughter, Susan Rustay, as she stood in front of her Clearwater home as her brother Bruce, from Jacksonville, pulled up in his truck. "She was the one who was sick, not him."
In 2003, doctors diagnosed lung cancer and said her mother had six months to live, Rustay said. The Red Cross made arrangements so Bruce could fly home from his military post in the Middle East, but it turned out he did not have to say goodbye.
Over and over, their mother defied death, she said.
Foisey had been sitting in a recliner alone in her room when her cigarette ignited a small fire just after 9 a.m, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department. Investigators said Foisey was found on the ground a few feet from the chair with burns around her mouth and face. She died soon after reaching Mease-Dunedin Hospital, Sheriff's spokesman Jim Bordner said. The official cause had not been determined Friday afternoon.
"Oh it's dangerous." Rustay said "We've been telling her for years, "Mom you're going to blow yourself up someday.' "
But ultimately, there is only so much children can do to control their 76-year-old mother, she said. Sunset Villa had permitted her to smoke, but only outside, she said.
The family was still reeling from losing their 77-year-old father, Oliver, also known as "Ollie," Rustay said, when they got news about their mother.
Eleven Clearwater Fire Rescue crews responded to the off-white ranch-style home on Americus Drive.
The flames were confined to Foisey and did not injure other residents or cause any damage to the home, said Elizabeth Daly, a spokeswoman.
Daly said that standard protocol in homes licensed by the state Agency for Health Care Administration required evacuation.
The seven other people who live at Sunset Villa were evacuated to a sister facility in Tarpon Springs, Daly said, and might return home over the weekend.
Robin Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727 445-4157.