Three elderly women were found dead at the James Sneider Apartments senior living facility on Chicago's North Side amid high heat. | Photo: Hispanic Housing Development Corporation

CHICAGO (AP) — The owner operators of a senior living facility on Chicago’s North Side where three women were found dead amid high heat last May have reached a $16 million settlement with the women's families.

Gateway Apartments Ltd. and Hispanic Housing Development Corp., which own and operate the James Sneider Apartments, agreed to the settlement last month. The payout will be split equally among the families of the three women.

The women who were found dead on May 14 were 76-year-old Delores McNeely, 72-year-old Gwendolyn Osborne and 68-year-old Janice Reed.

All three women were found unresponsive over a 12-hour span. Residents had started complaining of oppressively hot conditions days earlier and said management refused to turn off the heat in the building despite unseasonably hot weather over 90 degrees.

Autopsies showed all three women died from excessive heat exposure.

After the deaths, the city adopted an ordinance that requires buildings housing seniors to establish cooling centers in common areas when the heat index reaches 80 degrees.

“This tragedy was avoidable and could and should have been prevented,” said attorney Larry Rogers Jr., who represents the family of Janice Reed. “Had the defendants used common sense and turned the heat off and the air conditioning on, these ladies would not have died.”

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