The 14th Judicial Circuit Medical Examiner's Office has identified 30 storm-related casualties after Hurricane Michael roared through the Panhandle as a Category 4 storm. See who they were.
Editor's note: The 14th Judicial Circuit Medical Examiner's Office has identified 30 storm-related casualties after Hurricane Michael roared through the Panhandle as a Category 4 storm. These include deaths directly caused by the storm, as well as deaths caused by conditions brought on by the storm. One additional person was killed in the 14th Judicial Circuit but that case was taken by a different district.
The News Herald compiled the list of names and appropriate circumstances as a way to remember those lost in this historic event. When possible, they reached out to family members, found photos, searched for obituaries, scoured social media and searched for public records for additional information. The list is presented in the order received from the Medical Examiner's Office.
Dakota Brooks, 26
Dakota Brooks, of Bayou George, was killed Thursday, Oct. 11 in an incident with police near the intersection of Pinetree Avenue and Azalea street. Few details have been released about the shooting, which involved two Florida Department of Financial Services officers, but according to incident reports, Brooks allegedly climbed into an unmarked patrol SUV and got into an altercation with the officers. His family, however, has said Brooks had been traumatized by the storm.
Donald Vonderhaar, 87
Donald Vonderhaar, of Mexico Beach, was killed on Oct. 10 when his house was swept away by Hurricane Michael.
Vonderhaar was born in Fort Madison, Iowa and leaves behind three children, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He served in the US Air Force and operated Vonderhaar Dairy in Iowa for a number of years, according to his obituary, before retiring to Mexico Beach and hosting Spring Break visits for his grandchildren and their friends.
Russell Herndon, 28
Russell Herndon was found on Oct. 11 in his home, which had no power.
David Wootton, 91
David Wootton, of Panama City, was found on Oct. 13 behind his home.
Norman Gatlin, 78
Norman Gatlin was found on Oct. 12 behind his home
Name Withheld, 61
A 61-year-old male, listed as transient, who was found deceased in a yard after the storm.
Jose Golazo, 52
Jose Golazo died on Oct. 10 after being unable to access dialysis because of a lack of power and transportation due to the storm.
Qumont Booker, 68
Qumont Booker, of Panama City, was found Oct. 15 at his home, which had no power due to the hurricane.
Judith “Judy” Cooley, 79
Judith Cooley died on Oct. 11 at home in Lynn Haven while under hospice care.
Cooley was born premature in Cynthiana, Kentucky at home and was placed in a homemade incubator, consisting of a shoe box and a lightbulb, for the first few days of her life. She would go on to travel the world, according to her son Cade Pope, visiting Europe, China, Japan, Bali, Egypt and the Amazon. She taught in Bay District Schools for over three decades, putting her “expressive” acting and storytelling skills to good use teaching gifted 5th graders at Lynn Haven Elementary. When she retired, she joined the Florida Storytellers Association, showcasing her talent and love of storytelling across Bay County.
Her family had taken her home to Lynn Haven from the hospital a few days prior to the storm, thinking it would only be a Category 3, her son said. Together, the family had one last “adventure” he said, as the home was badly damaged in the storm before she died late Thursday night.
“We often hear from her former students and others how inspirational she was and how instrumental in shaping their lives,” Pope said. “She was adventurous, quick witted, industrious, loving and generous. Bay county has lost an extraordinary woman.”
James Stukey, 81
James Stukey died Oct. 11 after a power outage caused by the storm left him without his necessary medical devices.
His children wrote the following about their father:
James Stukey, “Jim” or “Jimmy” to his friends and family, was a lifelong resident of Bay County, Florida. He was born on February 27, 1937, the 10th of 11 siblings. His large family loved each other deeply and always looked out for one another. These strong family bonds helped to build the foundation for the loving husband and father that Jim Stukey would become. In 1970, Jim married the love of his life, Gail. They enjoyed 48 years of marriage, raised four children together and were blessed with eight grandchildren.
My siblings and I have been honored to call Jim Stukey our father. Our father was a builder. He built the family home that we grew up in and the home where my husband and I are raising our children. I’m proud to say that both of these homes withstood the forces of Hurricane Michael. More importantly, though, he was a builder of people. He taught his children the value of a job well done. He took the time to work with us on projects and encouraged us to always do our best, work hard and not cut corners. He was a patient father who did not simply tell us how to do something; he would take the time to show us.
As every good builder knows, you can’t have a strong home without a firm foundation. This is where my dad’s legacy truly lies. He showed us that a life built on a love for Jesus Christ is a life well- lived. He put others above himself, gave sacrificially to both friends and strangers, and he served the Lord faithfully. Because of our parents’ faith in Jesus Christ, our family has a firm foundation that has helped us weather this most recent storm—both figurative and literal—and will give us strength for years to come.
Timothy Clark, 64
Timothy Clark of Bear Creek died on Oct. 11 after collapsing while working in his yard after the storm and EMS was not able to respond.
He was originally from Atlanta according to his obituary, and went to Seqoyah High School where he met his wife of 45 years.
Kurt Bennett, 67
Kurt Bennett died on Oct. 15 after the hurricane left him without the power needed for his respiratory devices.
Agnes Vicari, 79
Agnes Vicari was killed on Oct. 10 when her Mexico Beach home was moved by storm surge.
If Vicari was born in another time, or had someone growing up encouraging her, she would have been a CEO of a company or an "extraordinary" businesswoman, according to her daughter Gina Vicari. Born in Brooklyn, Vicari was an incredibly shy but strong woman who cherished her granddaughter and cooked spaghetti suppers for her every Sunday. She loved to crochet, loved her “whimsical” garden and hated the name Agnes, instead preferring to be called “Aggie.” Aggie cherished her friends, cherished her granddaughter and cherished her house on S. 38th Street in Mexico Beach.
Sandra Lucas-Detrick, 60
Sandra Lucas-Detrick was killed on Oct. 10 when her Mexico Beach home was moved by storm surge.
She was originally from Arkansas and worked for many years as a flight attendant with Air Transport International, where she made many close friends. For years she dreamed about moving to Mexico Beach before making it her home in October 2017. She was well known and well liked in the community, working at the Express Lane gas station near her home.
Gary Nakkula, 65
Gary Nakkula was killed on Oct. 10 when his Mexico Beach home was moved by storm surge.
Henry Campbell, 70
Henry Campbell died on Oct. 16 after succumbing to exhaust fumes from his generator.
Robert Withey, 43
Robert Withey died on Oct. 10 after collapsing in his yard while trying to secure his property after the onset of strong winds and EMS was unable to respond.
Nick Rivera, 64
Nick Rivera was killed on Oct. 18 when a tree fell on him as he was trying to clear storm debris
His daughter, Noel Rivera, said Nick Rivera was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather. He worked very hard to help others and to make sure they had what they needed. He never hesitated to go out of his way or to devote additional time to anything that called for it. He was a retired Florida Highway Patrol officer who continued to work in the FHP Reserve, and a coordinator at Gulf Coast State College.
Dorothy Lawrence, 94
Dorothy Lawrence died on Oct. 19 of natural disease while a power outage from the storm made her home health needs less accessible.
George Covington, 60
George Covington died on Oct. 21 when a tree fell on him as he was trying to clear storm debris.
Growing up, Covington worked three jobs to help support his mother after his father died when he was 11 years old. He served in the US Air Force for 30 years in radio communications and retired in 2008 as a Chief Master Sergeant before continuing on with the same squadron for another decade in the civil service as a frequency manager. He loved to fish, was an excellent repairman and “his word was bond,” according to his son, George Covington, Jr.
In the days following the storm, he went to check on neighbors, fixing generators and tarping roofs, trying to get his house and the neighborhood back to normal as quickly as possible.
“I miss everything and especially the conversations we always had because he was my mentor and my best friend,” Covington, Jr. said. “He helped me grow in the Air Force and into the man I am today.”
Paul Gilday, 77
Paul Gilday was found in his home on Oct. 11 with no power in his home after the storm.
Gilday was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was a Vietnam War veteran and served in both the US Navy and US Air Force Reserves. According to his obituary, he bought his first diving suit at 11 years old and later worked with Jacques Cousteau in the redesign of an underwater breathing apparatus. He was a Springfield police officer for 24 years, where he put his love of diving to good use, helping start the Springfield Police Department’s Dive Program.
William “Bill” McConnell, 70
William “Bill” McConnell was killed on Oct. 10 trying to escape Hurricane Michael in Cape San Blas.
According to an article in the Miami Herald, McConnell was from Brooklyn and was well known in his Simmons Bayou neighborhood, walking his poodle every day to greet his neighbors. He was found near his truck in the marsh behind his home on Oct. 13, evidently trying to escape the storm.
Jeffrey Hayes, 63
Jeffrey Hayes died on Oct. 18 after he collapsed on the job as an out-of-state utility worker in Mexico Beach.
Hayes was from Cicero, Indiana and worked for Buford Tree Service.
Willard “Brad” Price, 49
Willard “Brad” Price was killed on Oct. 18 when a tree fell on him as he was trying to clear storm debris.
Price was born in Port St. Joe, living in Wewahitchka all his life and, according to his obituary, enjoyed hunting and fishing. He worked as the fire coordinator for Gulf County and also worked as a firefighter/EMT for Bay County. He was also known in the community as a longtime softball coach for Wewahitchka Athletics. He leaves behind two children and two grandchildren.
Tony Gray, 67
Tony Gray died on Oct. 15 of natural disease and no electricity caused by Hurricane Michael.
Gray was born in Campbellton and leaves behind three sons, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Leroy “Jabo” Cooper, 61
Leroy “Jabo” Cooper died on Oct. 16 of natural disease and no electricity caused by Hurricane Michael.
Cooper was born in Marianna. He was a member of the Greater Buckhorn Missionary Baptist Church and, according to his obituary, worked for most of his life as a truck driver.
John Gambos, 67
John Gambos was killed on Oct. 10 when a tree fell on his mobile home, causing the roof to collapse on him.
George Cesil, 52
George Cesil was killed Oct. 24 when he was struck by a vehicle while working to restore power in Washington County.
Cesil was from Colerain, North Carolina. According to his obituary, he built every house his family had ever lived in and loved being a lineman.
James “Bo” Ussery, 60
James Ussery was killed Oct. 24 when he was struck by a vehicle while working to restore power in Washington County.
Ussery lived in Chipley all his life and, according to his obituary, proudly worked for the West Florida Electric Cooperative for 31 years, starting in 1987.
Ryan Barrett, 22
Ryan Barrett was killed Oct. 24 when he was struck by a vehicle while working to restore power in Washington County.
Barrett was from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina and worked for Lee Electrical. According to news reports, he had only been on the job five months and had come to Florida from restoring power in the Carolinas after Hurricane Florence.