The last moments of Hurricane Ian's victims, told in grim details by Florida medical examiners

TALLAHASSEE — A 96-year-old Charlotte County man found trapped under a car in high water is the oldest victim of Hurricane Ian’s deadly course through Southwest Florida, whose wrath is now revealed in a grim spreadsheet compiled by the state’s Medical Examiners’ Commission. 

The 68-person list of confirmed dead is certain to grow, as rescue and recovery efforts continue in areas battered by the Category 4 storm and the flooding it spawned after it made landfall last Wednesday near Cayo Costa on Florida's Gulf coast.

Hurricane Ian's path left destruction and death.
Hurricane Ian's path left destruction and death.

But in spare, jarring detail, the last moments of the lives of Floridians caught in one of nation's most powerful storms is revealed in the medical examiners’ report — though victims are not identified by name.

“The decedent was outside her residence smoking a cigarette when a gust of wind from the hurricane blew her off the porch and she subsequently struck her head on a concrete step,” was the description of how a 71-year-old Manatee County woman died Thursday.

“911 was called, but EMS (emergency services) was delayed due to weather,” the record concludes.

Death toll highest in Lee County: As Ian death toll rises, officials in Lee County, home to 45 deaths, are put on defensive

Damages to buildings, homes and businesses estimated at more than $1.5 billion in Naples

From bad to worse...: The property insurance market was melting down. Then Hurricane Ian flooded Southwest Florida

The bulk of Hurricane Ian’s dead were in Lee County

The bulk of Hurricane Ian’s dead — 45 people — listed in the medical examiners’ report, were in Lee County.

A 54-year-old Lee County man died attempting to flee rising flood waters. “The decedent attempted to get out of a window and became trapped,” was how the report said he was found the day after Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday in nearby Cayo Costa.

The emotional trauma of the storm also claimed at least one victim, the report shows.

“Decedent shot himself after seeing property damage due to hurricane,” was the summary for a 73-year-old Lee County man who died Friday.

The 96-year-old found dead under a car in Charlotte County was among five Floridians age 90 or older killed in the storm.

The youngest storm victim was age 22, and identified in news reports as Tyler Watson of Lake Wales. Watson was a passenger in a pickup truck driven by Hosie Session, Jr., 70, which collided with a downed tree in Polk County on Saturday morning. Session was hospitalized.

Thirty-eight of the victims were age 65 or older. And reports on those who died in Lee County showed just how quickly Ian could turn deadly.

“Decedent was crushed by sliding glass door and pool cage,” was how a 65-year-old man evidently died Friday.

A 73-year-old man discovered Thursday was “found dead by neighbor following hurricane; storm surge in area (was a) minimum of eight feet,” the report showed.

For many with health problems, the storm proved too much to overcome.

A 70-year-old Lee County woman who had high blood pressure, recovering from a stroke and other medical issues, was “found in flood waters up to chest.” Her death Saturday was attributed to “delayed medical access due to hurricane.”

An 89-year-old man who died Friday in Lee County was described as “oxygen dependent.”

“Lost power and had generator failure,” the medical examiners’ report concluded. “Decedent unable to use required equipment.”

USA Today Network-Florida reporter Douglas Soule contributed to this report. John Kennedy is a reporter in the USA TODAY Network’s Florida Capital Bureau. He can be reached at, or on Twitter at @JKennedyReport

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Hurricane Ian deaths: Medical Examiners' spreadsheet tells grim tale