ORLANDO, Fla. — The deaths of six people in Florida — including a Disney World hotel guest and four others in Central Florida — have been linked by medical examiners to Hurricane Dorian, Spectrum News 13 has learned.
- Disney hotel guest collapsed, died
- Ocoee man dropped from tree
- Indialantic man fell 3 stories off balcony
A tree trimmer in Naples who was electrocuted August 31 was the first U.S. death linked to Hurricane Dorian.
Florida’s death toll rose by one after the District Nine Medical Examiner's Office released new information Thursday.
Mansel Crowell, 86, collapsed at a hurricane evacuation shelter on Southgate Drive in Kissimmee on Wednesday and was taken to a hospital, where he died.
Edward Mills, 72, collapsed at TownePlace Suites by Marriott, 8040 Palm Parkway near Lake Buena Vista, while moving luggage as Dorian approached Monday. He died at a hospital.
Richard Solomon, 62, collapsed Monday while moving luggage at Disney's Art of Animation Resort, prompting a call at 4:43 p.m. to the Reedy Creek Fire Department. The man went into cardiac arrest.
Firefighters performed advanced life support and transported him to AdventHealth Celebration, where he was pronounced dead. The man and his family evacuated from a nearby undisclosed city, deputies said.
Less than two hours later, a 56-year-old Ocoee man, Joseph Waldon, fell from a tree while cutting limbs with a chain saw on Suzette Drive, according to Ocoee Police.
Waldon was rushed to Health Central Hospital in Ocoee, where he was pronounced dead. Officers said they responded to a “man down” call at 6:20 p.m.
“Mr. Waldon was sitting on a tree limb using a chain saw to trim limbs,” police said in a report. “While he was sawing another limb, the cut limb broke free striking Mr. Walden, which caused him to fall to the ground.”
How a death is attributed to a particular storm has been a topic of debate for years. Generally, medical examiners follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It’s not always clear.
The District Nine Medical Examiner's Office, for example, is not counting the death of a 62-year-old man as hurricane-related, even though the Orange County Sheriff’s Office initially counted him as a Dorian victim. In that case, Orange County deputies responded to the 3900 block of North Apopka Vineland Road for a medical call at 8:08 p.m. Monday.
A family member found a 62-year-old man in the yard. He was later pronounced dead.
“He had last been seen earlier that day making hurricane preparations in his yard,” the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said in a report. His name wasn’t available.
Dr. Joshua D. Stephany, Orange County’s chief medical examiner and division manager of the District Nine Medical Examiner's Office, said the 62-year-old man was “just doing normal yardwork.”
“If we find out he was specifically making hurricane preparations, then we will contribute it as a hurricane related death,” Stephany said.
It takes awhile for such reports to surface after storms pass, so Florida’s total of six Dorian-related deaths as of Thursday may change over time.
A Brevard County death on Sunday marked Florida’s second Dorian-related fatality. Indialantic Police Chief Michael A. Connor confirmed late Wednesday the circumstances of a 68-year-old Indialantic’s man storm-related death.
David Bradley was putting plywood on the windows of a beachside condominium when he fell three stories to his death at about 4:10 p.m. Sunday.
It happened at 301 South Miramar Ave. at The Wavecrester Condominium in Indialantic, a town located between the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean with less than 3,000 residents.
Bradley was standing on small ladder when he lost his balance and fell through the metal railing and screen enclosure. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed on scene. Bradley was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later. Bradley may have suffered a cardiac episode, the chief confirmed.
In Collier County, 38-year-old Walter Ward of Naples was electrocuted August 31 while trimming trees for a landscaping company that was hired by a local hotel to prepare for Hurricane Dorian. The limbs grew into the power lines.
“The company looked at the work on Friday and agreed to do the work on Saturday. The decedent was with another employee who witnessed the electrocution,” Jailene Hernandez, a death investigator for the District Twenty Medical Examiner’s Office, told Spectrum News 13.
Naples Police officers responded at 8:52 a.m. Saturday to the Hampton Inn at 3210 9th St. North for a medical emergency. Ward was about 35 feet high in a boom-lift while two other workers were on the ground.
“There was sparks and smoke coming from power lines in the trees near the top of the boom-lift where Ward was located. The boom-lift was on the southwest side of the property,” the police report said. “Ward was hanging over the railing of the metal cage, unresponsive. There was a running gas powered chain-saw up in the trees near the boom-lift.”
A worker said Ward was cutting tree branches away from power lines when heard a “big electric pop” and it appeared that Ward was being electrocuted from the power lines.
They lowered the boom-lift and rescue officials tried to revive Ward after detecting a pulse. He was taken to a hospital and declared dead.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.
Florida’s fatalities are in addition to the deaths in the Bahamas, estimated at 21 late Thursday.
An 85-year-old North Carolina man died Monday when he fell off a ladder while preparing his house in Columbus County, marking that state’s first storm-related fatality.
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official said Thursday it is too soon for the federal agency to provide a complete count of Dorian-related storm deaths in the U.S. Local and state governments are the best source of information at this point, the official said.
Hurricane Dorian is projected to weaken as it heads up the coasts of South and North Carolina.