More than 60 people died in Florida as Hurricane Ian tore through the Sunshine State, leaving a trail of devastation that left many others without shelter or basic necessities. Recovery efforts are ongoing in the hardest-hit areas, as survivors go about the grim task of burying their loved ones.
This page is a collection of stories about those those who died after Hurricane Ian. Subscribers can see a database that shows all recorded deaths from the hurricane.
- Jerry Argo
- Sarah Billings
- James William Brown
- Martha "Marti" Campbell
- Richard Corbett
- Ronald Foley
- Patricia Freed
- Bonnie Gauthier
- Messiah Grier
- Becky Higgie
- Kelly Judd
- Robert Rigaux and Becky Bodnar
- Anita Riney
- Thomas Robert
- Rose Marie Santangelo
- Glenn Scroggy
- Sheila Sheckells
- SueAnn Shell
- Daymon Utterback
- Tyler Watson
- John Zablackas
- Ashley Zadai
Drowned while waiting to be evacuated
Jerry Argo, 67, drowned on Sept. 30 when he fell and hit his head on the floor of his flooded home on Lake Drive, according to a sheriff's incident report.
Argo and his wife, Alice Argo, were on a waiting list to be evacuated as waters from heavy rains flooded their neighborhood and home, the sheriff's report said.
Alice Argo called 911 several times reporting her husband had fallen and hit his head on the floor and needed assistance. Alice Argo's last call to dispatchers stated that her husband was unresponsive and not breathing and needed help immediately, deputies wrote in the report.
At 10:30 p.m. deputies were able to make it to the home using an MRAP military-style vehicle. At the home deputies discovered that Alice Argo had been taken to a nearby shelter, the report states.
Deputies then entered the home and found Jerry Argo dead in the home, investigating deputies said.
Died from a heart attack
Sarah Billings, 73, drowned on Sept. 28 while suffering a heart attack. Her husband found her in the water in or near their one-story home on Bow Line Drive in Naples.
James William Brown
Died while working in the yard
James William Brown of Lakeland suffered a medical episode on Sept. 27, while working in his yard in preparation for the hurricane, Medical Examiner Stephen Nelson said Wednesday. Brown was pronounced dead at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. The cause of death was listed as atherosclerotic heart disease, a buildup of cholesterol plaque in arteries that obstructs blood flow and can lead to a rupture.
Martha 'Marti' Campbell
Last spoke to her family as her home was collapsing around her
The body of Martha "Marti" Campbell was found 1½ weeks after Hurricane Ian destroyed her house.
Campbell lived at 100 Hercules Drive across the street from her brother, Robert Campbell. According to a family post, she sought refuge in a second-floor bathtub as Hurricane Ian stormed Fort Myers Beach on Sept. 28. The last they heard from her on the phone, her house was starting to collapse around her.
Campbell worked for years as an usher at Fort Myers venues Florida Repertory Theatre and Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. She also volunteered at Edison & Ford Winter Estates.
Unable to use oxygen pump after power loss
Richard Corbett, 80, was home with his wife in Sarasota County when they lost power. Corbett was unable to use his oxygen pump, the report states, and began experiencing worsening shortness of breath before collapsing in a bathroom.
Drowned while fighting flooding at his home
Ronald Foley, 72, of Deltona, drowned around 1 a.m. Thursday while trying to drain his pool as it filled with water from the storm, deputies said.
Foley's wife said she thought she heard someone yelling for help, but did not know if it was her husband because the storm was loud. When she went to the backyard to see where the call for help was coming from, she could not find her husband, according to a sheriff's office incident report.
Foley's wife said she saw a flashlight in the canal and called 911.
Deputies arriving on scene saw a faint light from the flashlight in the canal and found Foley facedown in the water. An unresponsive Foley was transported to AdventHealth Fish Memorial in Orange City where he died at 2:14 a.m. the report shows.
Foley was in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps. He also served in Korea, his wife said. After he retired from the Army, he worked as a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office deputy for 30 years.
Fort Myers Beach waitress 'was a free spirit'
Bonnie Gauthier was a mother and grandmother. She was loved by the many people who knew her.
“She was a free spirit and loved to put smiles on everyone’s face,” her sister-in-law Sandra Fraser wrote on GoFundMe. “She was beautiful and giving.
The Fort Myers Beach waitress made people laugh, made them smile, made them feel welcome when they walked through the door at the Plaka restaurant, a popular Greek restaurant in Fort Myers Beach’s Times Square.
Gauthier died Sept. 28.
Struck her head on a concrete step
Patricia Freed, 71, of Bradenton, stepped out onto her porch to smoke a cigarette on Sept. 29 “when a gust of wind from the hurricane blew her off the porch and she subsequently struck her head on an adjacent concrete step.”
Her husband called 9-1-1, but because of the weather conditions, EMS wasn’t able to respond until after wind speeds were below 45 mph. Freed was taken to the hospital and died from blunt trauma to her head.
Killed after an argument
Messiah Grier, a youth football coach from Texas, came to Southwest Florida as part of a team of Servpro contractors to help clean up after Hurricane Ian.
He never left.
Authorities in Hendry County say 36-year-old Vincent Harris, one of Grier's coworkers, shot and killed the 29-year-old San Antonio native following an argument in the parking lot of the Port LaBelle Inn on Oct. 6.
“I got tons of kids man, at least a hundred plus kids that are (asking), 'Hey coach, what happened to Messiah?' " Julian Gonzalez, a friend of Grier's who runs the youth football league where he coached, said in an interview with KENS 5, the CBS affiliate in San Antonio.
Fell while evacuating
On Sept. 28, Becky Higgie, 63, and her husband were evacuating their home when she slipped in a puddle and fell. Her husband helped her up and drove the pair of them to his office for shelter, but less than an hour later noticed she was unresponsive and called 911.
Medics took her to Physicians Regional Medical Center in Naples, where she was pronounced dead of an aortic dissection linked to previous heart disease.
She was found inside her home
Kelly Judd, 57, was found inside her home, which had caved in due to the storm. When she was found, she was lying in water in her kitchen. She died on Oct. 4, three days after being taken to the hospital.
Robert Rigaux and Becky Bodnar
The Fort Myers Beach couple ‘just glowed’ when together
Becky Bodnar lived in France for about four years, where she met Robert Rigaux. They married in 1976, with one ceremony in Europe and one in the States.
Bodnar, who kept her maiden name for teaching purposes, then got a job at Georgia State University in Atlanta and worked in the English as a Second Language Program.
The couple would retire to Fort Myers Beach, where Bodnar’s parents had bought a home in 1972, eventually converting it into two units. In her later years, Bodnar was her mother’s caretaker until her passing. The lot sits empty today.
When Jones met Rigaux, she took notice right away. She and her husband visited Fort Myers Beach on their honeymoon, and Bodnar and Rigaux were at the airport to greet them.
“He came right up to me and gave me a hug,” Jones said. “He was the perfect gentleman, especially toward Becky.”
Taken by waves in Ormond Beach
Ocean Rescue patrol officers were called to the 2700 block of Atlantic Avenue in Ormond Beach on Sept. 29, where it was reported that Anita Riney, 68, of Fairdale, Kentucky, was "last seen falling in the water," according to a report from the agency.
Before beach officers arrived, Riney's family pulled her out of the water. Paramedics from Volusia County Emergency Medical Service made it to the scene, and saw Riney hanging on to the stairs of the walkover, Ocean Rescue Deputy Chief Tamra Malphurs said.
While paramedics were trying to assist Riney, a second wave washed her out to sea, Malphurs said.
While Ocean Rescue officers were searching for Riney, they were notified by dispatchers that her body was seen in the 1400 block of Atlantic Avenue.
Collapsed after climbing stairs
Thomas Robert, 57, and his wife evacuated their home in Cape Coral on Sept. 27 to a condo in Naples. The condo lobby had flooded and the elevator was not working, so the couple took the stairs.
Thomas, who had a history of chest pains and heart problems, collapsed after climbing seven flights, and was pronounced dead of arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease on Oct. 3 at North Naples Hospital.
Rose Marie Santangelo
Died in the Naples home she loved
Rose Marie Santangelo died in the Naples home she loved, according to her obituary, on Rivard Drive.
Santangelo was born in Youngstown, Ohio, on February 22, 1949, to her late parents Enrico and Lucille Santangelo, according to her obituary.
She graduated from South High School and went on to get a degree in radiologic technology. She moved to Miami to further her career and eventually ended up in Naples.
Her career was primarily in cancer treatment.
"She had enormous compassion for her Cancer patients, was a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan, an avid reader, and a lover of white wine," her obituary said.
Her obituary said she considered her nieces and nephews as her children. Her friends she considered family.
"She was a wonderful lifelong friend and I will sadly surely miss her," Dottie Krake posted.
He had an eye for photography and a heart for Philadelphia sports teams
Through the lenses of his Nikons, Glenn Scroggy captured the Eagles at Veterans Stadium, Mike Schmidt sliding into home for the Phillies, Charles Barkley at the Spectrum. There were fires and court hearings and press conferences, a regular day for a newspaper photographer.
Scroggy spent a decade making photographs for the Gloucester County Times, then another decade at the Courier-Post in New Jersey. He translated those skills in the advertising department at The News-Press in Fort Myers in the early 2000s.
Died while looking after her pets
Two years ago, Sheila Sheckells celebrated her 60th birthday surrounded by family.
In a photograph, she’s sitting in a chair hugging her granddaughter as her daughter, Maria Gibbs, and her grandson stand on either side. Sheckells smiles as a silver three-foot balloon in the shape of the number six floats above her.
It was a tradition that instead of celebrating her actual age, Sheckells reversed the numbers. She was celebrating turning six, Sheckells’ daughters Maria Gibbs and Jessie Fischesser recalled warmly. They’d bought her a taco pinata filled with her favorite treats that year.
For their mom’s 61st birthday, they honored her with a Sweet 16 sash and crown.
That was just how Sheckells was, her daughters said. She always had a smile and a laugh, ready to welcome every person and animal into her life.
Drowned in her apartment in Naples
SueAnn Shell died on Sept. 28 from drowning during Hurricane Ian's storm surge.
Her roommate returned to their apartment on Sandpiper Street in Naples after the storm and found her dead, according to the 20th District Medical Examiner's Office.
On her obituary on Legacy.com, those who knew Shell posted memories and condolences.
"I will always love you till the stars fall from the sky, and night turns into day," Library Bruce posted.
"A beautiful woman who shared many beautiful moments," Jason Anderson posted.
"You were always so great to work with," Michael Mumm posted.
According to her Facebook, Shell was a registered nurse.
The 'Pirate of the Beach' lost his life after rescuing his girlfriend and dog
A Fort Myers Beach man known as the "pirate of the beach" is remembered as a lifesaver after he ran back to his flooding home to rescue his girlfriend and dog from Hurricane Ian.
Daymon Utterback, 54, died after helping his girlfriend and Yorkshire mix dog, Peanut, get to safety. Both survived the storm.
According to the Florida Medical Examiner's records, Utterback attempted to exit through a window during the storm and became trapped.
Utterback worked off the beach in Naples as a mechanical engineer. He was well-known in Fort Myers Beach for dressing up as Jack Sparrow from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film franchise.
"There was just a huge loss for that community," said Utterback's friend, Michael Yost. "It's just an empty, empty spot in that community now."
Died from blunt force traumatic injuries
Tyler Watson of Lake Wales died when a vehicle in which he was riding struck a tree that had fallen onto Old Bartow Lake Wales Road, according to a report from the Medical Examiner’s Office. The report listed Watson’s cause of death as multiple blunt force traumatic injuries.
Died while putting up shutters
To his former colleagues, John Zablackas was the quiet and warm, always-on-the-move school administrator deeply invested in his students' successes.
Zablackas didn't like being in the limelight, former Sarasota High School Principal Jeff Hradek said. The humble, highly intelligent assistant school principal focused his energy behind the scenes to make a difference in students' lives.
Zablackas, 71, died after falling off a roof while helping prepare the day before Hurricane Ian made landfall.
He was surrounded by his wife, daughter, and son-in-law who were all praying for a miracle, according to his obituary.
ATV overturned in a washed-out area
In the early hours of Sept. 30, Ashley Zadai died in an ATV rollover accident after the six-passenger vehicle she was in swerved to avoid a washed-out section of the road caused by the storm.
It was a road Ashley Zadai and her friends had taken hundreds of times before. They had been out checking on others in the area. No one could have predicted what would happen.
Her family, heartbroken by the loss of their oldest daughter, said that she was doing what she loved with the people she loved.