Woman Says Lane Closings Didn't Lead to Elderly Mother's Death

Thursday, 09 Jan 2014 09:30 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The daughter of a 91-year-old New Jersey woman who died the first day of colossal traffic jams triggered by top aides of Gov. Chris Christie says she blames no one, believing “it was just her time.”

In an interview with The New York Times, Vilma Oleri, whose mother, 91-year-old Florence Genova, died Sept. 9, said she didn’t know until Wednesday the death had become part of the controversy over the closure of local lanes in Fort Lee, N.J., leading to the George Washington Bridge.

“We want to stay out of it,” she told The Times. “It’s not political.”

“I honestly believe it was just her time,” Oleri told the newspaper.

Oleri said her widowed mom had lived in the same Fort Lee house for more than 50 years, and had poor eyesight for years, and a failing memory – but that she was much loved by her family and friends.

“She was a pip,” she told The Times.

Genova was so secretive about her age, she didn’t even tell her own family. It only was revealed as details of her death were made public as part of the bridge-gate scandal, The Times reported.

“She never told me; she was like that,” Oleri said. “I sneaked a look on the paramedic’s clipboard.”

And though Genova didn’t vote in the last gubernatorial election, she did in the one before, her daughter said.

“She voted for Christie,” Oleri told The Times.

On Sept. 10, Paul Favia, the emergency medical services coordinator in Fort Lee, complained in a letter to the mayor the colossal George Washington Bridge traffic caused “unnecessary delays for emergency services” – including preventing an ambulance from Englewood Hospital from reaching Genova’s home, where she had collapsed.

Oleri said emergency responders tried to revive her mother at her home, but Genova showed no signs of life.

“We believe she died in her home, but they couldn’t pronounce her until she got to the hospital,” Oleri’s husband, Frank, told The Times. “The traffic didn’t make any difference.”

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