Callous cable thieves left OAP fighting for breath

Joe Vasey with his oxygen tank
Joe Vasey with his oxygen tank

A GRANDDAD with a chronic lung condition “could have been killed” when the power supply to his plug-in oxygen tank was cut by yobs stealing cable from an electricity sub-station.

Joe Vasey’s wife, Eva, 76, says her 77-year-old husband who suffers from emphysema and gets out of breath even tying his shoe laces, could have died after yobs stole cable from an electricity sub-station and left him without his lifesaving supply of oxygen.

The theft also left residents on the Headland without electricity for more than 12 hours and thousands of pounds in damage was caused by a power surge.

Joe was forced to go to his shed and haul in a spare oxygen cylinder just to get him through the night.

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The former construction worker then did his best to stay calm while he swapped over tubes from his “lifeline” oxygen machine and on to the reserve oxygen cylinder.

The great-granddad then had to crawl up the stairs to bed on his hands and knees due to the power supply being cut off to his stair lift, but only had enough gas from the spare cylinder to last him until 5am.

After it ran out he was forced to struggle down the stairs of his home in Northgate, on Hartlepool’s Headland, and get more spare oxygen out of the shed in order to survive.

The life-threatening saga started after thieves stole cable from the Chatham Road and Throston sub-stations, on the Headland, at around 9.45pm on Sunday, causing a power surge to run through homes in the area damaging thousands of pounds of residents’ electrical equipment including boilers, television and freezers.

Today Eva told the Hartlepool Mail: “It could have killed him.

“It’s disgusting what these people have done, they don’t think about the consequences.”

Joe, a former construction contractor, added: “I tried not to panic I just went into a mind-set of thinking ‘right I’ve got to do this’.

“We were just sitting in the living room and the lights went really low and went off and I heard the bell on my plug-in oxygen machine going.

“As soon as I heard it I just got up and managed to pull the plug out because I didn’t want it to blow. Then I had to go out the back, into the shed and get one of the portable bottles I have spare.

“They weigh a ton, but I just managed to get it in the house. I couldn’t get it up the stairs though because there was no stair lift, the power supply had been cut to that as well.

“I had to crawl up the stairs on all fours because if I do too much I get out of breath straight away.

“I can’t even tie the shoe laces on one foot without losing my breath.”

Eva, a former kitchen assistant at St Helen’s School, on the Headland, added: “We went round as fast as we could and took all of the plugs out the sockets and thank God it worked.

“It was a panic, the whole thing.

“Joe could have died or we both could have been blown up if anything had sparked.”