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‘I don’t think she would’ve survived’: West Seneca police officer buys A/C unit for 81-year-old woman

By Sarah Minkewicz,


WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – One West Seneca police officer went above and beyond the call of duty to help a resident avoid the heat.

“It was 90 degrees, I felt that I was suffocating,” said West Seneca resident Geraldine Simoneit.

The 81-year-old was already showing signs of heat exhaustion shortly after her air conditioning unit broke on Tuesday.

“I was roasting in here,” Simoneit told News 4.

HVAC crews attempted to repair it, but ultimately said they wouldn’t be able to because the central air unit was too old and she would need to buy a new one. That’s when Lieutenant Jonathan Luterek with the West Seneca Police Department was called to check on her.

He says when he got to the home it was almost 100 degrees inside.

“I felt like that was only going to get worse over the next couple of days,” Luterek said. “That’s not a safe condition for an elderly person inside their home. It was hot.”

Siomoneit didn’t have the money for a new air conditioner, so the officer decided to buy her one with his own money and install it.

“Knowing it was going to be 90 degrees or so over the next couple of days there was a real concern over how she was going to do,” he said. “To me, there wasn’t really an option to just leave her there without any air conditioning.”

“No words can describe their behavior and their attitude. It was above and beyond exceptional,” Simoneit said.

“I think almost anybody who works in this department would’ve done the same thing,” Luterek said. “I don’t think she would’ve survived another couple days in there, in her residence without air conditioning. That was the very least we could do for her.”

The officer says he’s thankful for all the support the department has received on social media, but he humbly says he was just doing his job.

Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.

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