Texas weather: Great-grandparents, dog die inside home without working air-conditioning

The heat proved to be too much for high school sweethearts, dog

ByShannon Ryan KTRK logo
Thursday, August 3, 2023
Great-grandparents unable to afford A/C repair die inside their home
"They're literally staying inside an oven." A family says their loved ones believed they could gut out a couple of days without A/C after their cooling broke down. It proved to be lethal.

BAYTOWN, Texas -- This week would have been Ramona and Monway Ison's 52nd wedding anniversary. They were high school sweethearts.

The great-grandparents were found dead inside their Baytown mobile home along with their dog on June 16.

"They kind of never had to spend the day apart," their daughter, Roxana Floods, said.

Their deaths are two of at least seven tied to heat in Harris County, Texas since June, according to records that ABC Houston affiliate KTRK obtained from the medical examiner's office.

"It's been devastating to our family. The heat, it's just not a joke," Floods said.

According to Floods, her parents' air-conditioning unit failed on Monday, June 12. They didn't have enough money to fix it but didn't tell anyone. Instead, they spent the week securing a loan.

Their neighbor and friend, Eddie Phillips, said the couple was always looking out for others. Phillips does not have a car, so Ramona Ison often drove him to medical appointments. He was eager to help the couple in turn. He offered to have them stay in his home. When they declined, he offered up a portable air-conditioning unit.

"They wouldn't take it," he explained.

Floods said her father had mobility issues. She believes it made them apprehensive to leave the home.

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"I think that played a part. That they just felt that they may have been a burden," the couple's granddaughter, Alexandra Seeser, said.

On Thursday, June 15, the couple secured a loan. They called and scheduled the repairs for Friday. Floods said her mother used some of the money to purchase fans. The couple was used to working in the heat and grew up without air-conditioning.

"I think they thought that it would be OK," Floods said.

The ordeal is motivating the couple's daughter to press the various A/C and energy corporations to help those like her parents.

"I would love for something to be set up with these large (air-conditioning) companies to warn people about how lethal this heat is," she said. "If they don't have the money to get their air conditioner fixed, to let them know that they're literally staying inside an oven."

Phillips said Ramona Ison never missed a morning walk with her dog. When he didn't see the pair out Friday, June 16, he grew worried.

"I thought, 'I better go check on them.' I banged on the door. No answer. Went over there to the bedroom. Banged on the window. No answer. So that's why I decided to call the police," he said.

As the repair technician pulled up for repairs that day, the medical examiner declared them dead inside the home.

"They were gathering their things to leave. The way that they were found, I think they decided that it was too hot and it was time to go and it was just too late. I've read about how disorienting the heat can be at that point, how exhausted you can feel, what to watch out for, and I don't really think they knew what to watch out for," Floods said.

She hopes her parents' story will help prevent more heat-related deaths.

"Everybody that I talk to, I tell them to tell their parents, 'Don't be too proud to ask for help,'" she said.