Irma claims dozens of lives across Caribbean, United States
By The Associated Press
Sep. 13, 2017
The scope and scale of misery caused by Irma continues to grow, including its human toll. Irma, at one point the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic, has claimed the lives of dozens of people across the Caribbean and southeastern United States.
Victims include two women in Havana who died when a balcony fell on their bus. A Florida jailhouse guard and sheriff's deputy were killed in a head-on collision. A 2-year-old child on Barbuda was swept away from his mother when their roof blew off. A teenage surfer drowned in a "monster wave" when the hurricane was still far away. Several people have died of carbon monoxide poisoning from electric generators.
Here are brief portraits of some of Irma's victims:
Jan Lebron Diaz, 13
Kiara Lebron Diaz, 16
Desiree Diaz Molina, 34, Orlando
Orange County sheriff's deputies on Tuesday afternoon found the teens and woman dead, and four others were taken to a hospital for treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning.
A portable generator had been running inside the home.
Deputies said in a news release that those who died and were sickened appear to belong to the same family.
Terryn Wilson, 7, Lakeland
Terryn died Wednesday from apparent carbon-monoxide poisoning at a Florida home with a generator running inside after Hurricane Irma, authorities said.
Polk County sheriff's officials said in a news release that Terryn's mother called 911, saying she woke up feeling dizzy and her daughter appeared to be dead.
Rescue workers found the mother sitting outside. She was taken to a hospital after telling rescuers the generator was still running in the living room. The woman and her daughter had been sleeping in the bedroom with a fan blowing.
After rescue workers opened the home's windows to let the deadly gas out, deputies retrieved the girl's body. The home is a duplex, and carbon-monoxide levels were dangerously high in the adjoining unit. Authorities say nobody else was affected.
Freddie Bryant, 68, Largo
Bryant, preparing to evacuate his mobile home because of the approaching hurricane, died after falling and striking his head, according to the medical examiner's office.
Bill Pellan, director of investigations for the office that serves Pinellas and Pasco counties, said Bryant died Friday at a St. Petersburg hospital, a day after the accident outside his home.
Pellan said Bryant fell as he and his wife packed their car. He died as a result of complications from blunt head trauma.
The death preceded the storm but came after Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Sept. 4.
Mart Daniels, 69, Port Richey
Daniels, who feared storm-related flooding and fled his home, died Sunday night after crashing his vehicle into a tree, according to the medical examiner's office.
Bill Pellan, director of investigations for the office that serves Pasco and Pinellas counties, said Daniels crashed nearby and died at the scene. The autopsy ruled the death was accidental, caused by blunt trauma.
Vincent Forest, 55, Lake Placid
Forest fell off a ladder on Saturday as he was preparing his home for Hurricane Irma. He was pronounced dead the next day at a Tampa hospital. His autopsy concluded the cause was blunt impact to his head, including skull fractures, brain bruising and internal bleeding, according to the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's office.
Forest was married and worked for the Glade and Grove Supply Co. agricultural dealership.
David Boatswain, 65, Miami
Authorities suspect Boatswain died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator running inside his home.
A neighbor discovered Boatswain in his home Monday morning after he didn't answer his phone, Miami-Dade Police Officer Robin Pinkard said Tuesday. A medical examiner is investigating, but emergency responders said the home tested positive for carbon monoxide.
"Remember we've always been saying, when you're operating a generator, make sure you run it in an open space, not an enclosed space," Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said. "Unfortunately in this case, the generator was run inside the house and the individual died of carbon monoxide poisoning."
Joseph Ossman, 53, Sebring
Julie Bridges, 42, Wauchula
Ossman, a sergeant with the Hardee Correctional Institute, was headed to work Sunday morning and Bridges, a Hardee County sheriff's deputy, was going home after the night shift when their vehicles collided head-on, according to a Florida Highway Patrol release.
Ossman's car ended up on a grass shoulder, while Bridges' patrol car came to a rest in a nearby intersection. It wasn't immediately clear which vehicle crossed into the oncoming lane.
Lt. Gregory Bueno confirmed the area was affected by rain and other hurricane-related conditions at the time of the crash, but its official cause remains under investigation.
Brian Buwalda, 51, Winter Park
Buwalda died Monday after apparently being electrocuted by a downed power line, police said.
Winter Park officers responded to reports of a man lying in the roadway and determined Buwalda was dead at the scene. A medical examiner will determine an official cause of death, but police say it appears to be accidental.
Heidi Zehner, 50, Orlando
Zehner was driving on a state highway near Orlando on Sunday evening, when she lost control and crashed.
Her SUV struck a guardrail. The cause of death was under investigation.
The accident came a couple hours after Irma made landfall 200 miles (320 kilometers) to the south on Marco Island.
Wilfredo Hernandez, 55, Tampa
Hernandez died when the chain saw he was using to clear trees in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma became entangled in a branch, causing it to kick up and cut his carotid artery.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's spokeswoman Cristal Nunez said in a news release that Hernandez was clearing trees in Tampa on Monday afternoon when the accident occurred.
Nunez said deputies used a harness to lower the man from the tree, but he died at the scene.
Stanley Williams, 59, Sandy Springs
Williams died when a tree fell on his suburban home, the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office in Atlanta said Wednesday.
Investigator Mark Gilbeau said Williams was crushed Monday by the fallen tree.
Nancy Eason, 67, Forsyth County
Eason, a retired court reporter, was in the passenger seat Monday when a large tree fell in a driveway, crushing her and trapping her husband, Mike Eason, who was in the driver's seat and suffered minor injuries, sheriff's officials said.
Nancy Eason worked for the Forsyth and Cherokee county judicial systems for many years. Mike Eason is a retired Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent and served as chief of the Cumming Police Department from 2005 to 2009.
Charles Saxon, 57, Calhoun Falls
Saxon died Monday after being struck by a tree limb as he was cleaning up limbs and debris outside his home, according to Abbeville County Coroner Ronnie Ashley.
An autopsy is planned for Saxon, who died at the scene.
William McBride, 54, Sumter County
McBride was pronounced dead Tuesday after he was found lifeless at his mobile home, where a generator was running inside, according to Sumter County Coroner Robert Baker Jr.
Baker says McBride died from carbon monoxide poisoning. McBride's sons found him at the home Tuesday morning, and the coroner said he had several appliances plugged into the generator, with only a single window cracked for ventilation.
Arthur Strudwick, 48, Columbia
Strudwick, a city Public Works Department employee, was on his way to help with a downed tree Monday night when he crashed his vehicle, according to Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson.
Police said it appears Strudwick lost control of his pickup truck and went off the road, striking a tree during windy and rainy conditions. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Wilson said the city's flags will be lowered to honor Strudwick, who worked for the department's forestry division.
Zander Venezia, 16
Venezia, a professional surfer, drowned on Sept. 5 while surfing large swells generated by the hurricane on the island's east coast, according to family friend and surfing instructor Alan Burke. Witnesses said Venezia was caught up in a monster wave that held him under water. Burke said it was a freak accident that occurred under blue skies and ideal surfing conditions when the storm was still hundreds of miles (kilometers) away.
Venezia had won North Carolina's Rip Curl Grom Search surfing competition for his age group in August.
Carl Junior Francis, 2
Carl, who had just turned 2 on Aug. 17, was swept to his death after the storm ripped the roof off the family's house and water came in. The child's mother, Stevet Jeremiah, fled with her husband and Carl's 4-year-old brother but was unable to save the toddler.
"Where they were staying, the roof (was) blown off from the house and then water started getting in the house," said Sgt. James Thomas, second in command at the Barbuda police station. "They were trying to get out of the house when apparently the child got loose and got trapped in the water."
Maria del Carmen Arregoitia Cardona, 27, Bauta
Yolendis Castillo Martinez, 27, Santiago de Cuba
The women were riding in a bus in Havana that was crushed when a fourth-floor balcony collapsed onto the vehicle, according to an official statement released by the Cuban government.
Osvaldo Abreu Barroso, 71, Havana
Barroso was electrocuted while trying to take down his television antenna. He fell and came in contact with a live wire, according to the government statement.
Alberto Francisco Flores Garcia, 77, Havana
Garcia was struck by an electric pole toppled by the wind as he walked down a street, according to the government statement.
Roydis Valdes Perez, 54, Havana
Walfrido Antonio Valdes Perez, 51, Granma
The brothers were killed when the home of Roydis Valdes Perez partially collapsed in the storm, according to the government statement.
Nieves Martinez Burgaleta, 89, Plaza de la Revolucion
Burgaleta was found floating in flood waters in front of his inundated apartment building, according to the government statement.
Alberto Manzano Martinez, 65, Matanzas
Orlando Torres Cruz, 53, Bolivia
Edilberto Cabrera Rodríguez, 64, Esmeralda Camaguey
Government officials said the homes of all three men collapsed, and added they "did not observe the norms of conduct" by "refusing evacuation."
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