Florida Keys

Hurricane Irma-related deaths rise to 14 in Florida Keys

View of a destroyed home that was toppled by Hurricane Irma in Big Pine Key on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Fourteen people in Monroe County died from storm-related incidents, the county’s Medical Examiner’s Office said Wednesday, Sept. 20 2017.
View of a destroyed home that was toppled by Hurricane Irma in Big Pine Key on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Fourteen people in Monroe County died from storm-related incidents, the county’s Medical Examiner’s Office said Wednesday, Sept. 20 2017. pportal@miamiherald.com

Hurricane Irma’s death toll in the Florida Keys has risen to 14, according to the Monroe County Medical Examiner.

A prior death count of nine in Monroe County didn’t include three from Key West. Also, one death before and another after the storm hadn’t been counted before, according to Dr. Michael Steckbauer, medical examiner for Monroe County.

“Any death that occurs during the storm is considered a storm-related death,” Steckbauer said.

For instance, he said, if a person dies of a heart attack while riding out the storm, it’s possible the stress of the disaster was a factor, so it goes in the storm-related category.

The Key West Police Department released the following information about five deaths in the city before, during, and after Irma struck on Sept. 10 but didn’t identify which three have been deemed storm-related.

▪ Jason Fitzgerald Henthorne, 47, a possible homicide, at 4:30 a.m. Sept. 8 at 281 Trumbo Road. No arrests have been made in connection with the death.

▪ Unidentified male, late 60s or early 70s, who was found dead at the corner of First Street and Fogarty Avenue during the storm on Sept. 10.

▪ Martha Elizabeth Preciado Buzbee, 55, 1800 Atlantic Blvd., who died of natural causes due to ongoing health issues.

▪ Unidentified male, fell off bicycle at Packer Street and Truman Avenue on Sept. 11.

▪ Kevin Nugent, 51, of 3525 Northside Drive, died Sept. 11. A doctor signed off on the cause as ongoing medical issues.

According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, storm-related deaths in the rest of Monroe County include:

▪ Roy Vincent Pardee, 60, whose body was found in a crashed car in Marathon during the storm.

▪ James Armantrout, who was found dead on Shark Key in the Lower Keys. He had medical conditions that probably caused or contributed to his apparent natural death.

▪ David Speraw, 66, of Tavernier, died of apparent natural causes in Tavernier. He had just been released from the hospital and had chronic medical conditions believed to have caused his death. “Although his next of kin has not yet been identified, we are hoping by releasing his name someone will be able to give us information which might lead to his next of kin,” said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin.

▪ Marcia Angelena Rodriguez, 61, of Marathon, who has been identified but whose next of kin have not been notified. She had chronic medical conditions that most likely contributed to the cause of her death, Herrin said.

▪ Unidentified older white male, possibly in his 60s, found in the rubble on 28th Street in Marathon. He had gray hair and a beard.

▪ Robert Owen Wheeler Jr., 68, who died at the Marathon High School shelter during the storm. He had medications with him at the shelter indicating a chronic medical condition, which most likely contributed to his death, Herrin said.

▪ Older white male, possibly in his 60s, was found on a partially sunken boat offshore of Stock Island. No identification was found with the body. He had gray hair and a beard.

▪ Unidentified white male, possibly in his 60s, was found across from the Big Pine Key cemetery near the shoreline. He had gray hair and a beard and was wearing a red life jacket.

▪ Unidentified white male, 59, who fell and was injured. He was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center and died at the hospital.

Anyone who has reason to believe they know one of the unidentified persons, or who thinks they may be the next of kin for one of these victims, can email jnorman@keysso.net or call 469-610-7017, the Sheriff’s Office said. Make sure to leave your name, contact information, and the name of the person you are calling about.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen

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