A mail carrier who worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 28 years died on the job Friday, as a massive heat wave hit Los Angeles.
Peggy Frank, 63, was sitting in her mail truck in the Woodland Hills area when she was found unresponsive by a neighbor, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Department of the Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office told PEOPLE. Paramedics arrived on the scene and tried to revive Frank, but she was pronounced dead at 3:35 p.m. local time.
USPS trucks are not equipped with air conditioning, CBS Los Angeles reported. It’s unclear whether the heat lead to her death.
The corner’s office told PEOPLE that an official autopsy had been completed but that her cause of death was “deferred pending additional tests.” Results from those can take between four a six weeks.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the employee’s family at this difficult time,” a representative for the USPS told PEOPLE in a statement. “The unfortunate incident involving this employee remains under investigation. This includes the underlying cause(s) of the employee’s death.”
The spokesperson added that postal carriers are encouraged to prioritize safety as they often work through all kinds of extreme weather.
“The safety of our employees is a top priority and the Postal Service has implemented a national Heat Illness Prevention Program (HIPP) for all employees,” the statement said. “In connection with the HIPP, the Postal Service provides mandatory heat-related and other safety training and instruction to all employees and assures they have the resources needed to do their jobs safely. Carriers are reminded to ensure they’re hydrated, wear appropriate clothing, including hats, get in the shade whenever possible, and to take sufficient amounts of water and ice with them out on their routes.”
Friday was Frank’s first time back at the Woodland Hills Post Office in months after suffering a broken ankle, her family told KTLA. She resided in North Hills and was just months away from retiring. Frank was also a mother of two and grandmother.
“I can not believe it because I don’t think that it should have happened,” her sister Lynn Calkins explained to KTLA, adding that Frank had suffered a heat stroke last year during the hot summer months.
“I’m so sad because she was going to retire soon. Now she can’t,” Calkins added to the outlet. “[The U.S. Postal Service] need to start caring about their people a little bit more. They need to change things a little so it happens to nobody else.”
Frank’s son, Kirk Kessler, blamed the USPS too.
“To have my mom 107 [degrees], humidity, carrying the mailbag around with no air conditioning in the car — yeah, I’m sure she’s probably gonna overheat,” he told CBS Los Angeles.
Coworker Joni Hogan Salvatore — who remembered Frank as an “amazing” coworker, a “very hard worker” and “just a really good person” – told The Los Angeles Daily News that the mail trucks are 10 to15 degrees hotter inside.
“They make us lock them and seal them for safety of the mail, but it’s horrible in there,” she said.