North Carolina

Florence death toll rises to 36, including 3 young children, in Carolinas, Virginia

Updated: Sept. 18 at 11:10 p.m.

The death toll from Hurricane Florence has risen to 36 with 26 in North Carolina, 8 in South Carolina and two in Virginia, after two female mental-health patients in the custody of the Horry County Sheriff’s Office died Tuesday night in South Carolina.

The dead include people who drowned, were electrocuted, crushed by trees, had their cars submerged by rushing waters, were “thrown by the wind” or had carbon monoxide poisoning, media outlets and government agencies report.

The two female mental-health patients being transported by the Horry County Sheriff’s Office drowned after the vehicle they were in ran off the road near flood waters in South Carolina’s Marion County on Tuesday night, the Sun News reported.

Citing Virginia State Police, Virginia media outlets including The Daily Progress, reported that 59-year-old Richard Edward Kelih, Jr., of Louisa County, died Tuesday morning when his pickup overturned during a flash flood.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety confirmed its count is at 26 as of Tuesday afternoon, but did not have additional information on the death in Pender County.

Two of the North Carolina deaths were discovered Monday morning, starting with man’s body was found in the flood waters in Union County, N.C. WSOC reported the body was next to a car that was submerged during the storm. The car was found off Landsford Road in the Marshville area, reported WBTV. The Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook that the death is “weather related.”

Also found Monday in Union County was the body of 1-year-old Kaiden Lee-Welch, who “was swept away in rushing waters from Richardson Creek,” the sheriff’s office said.

The death happened after the child’s mother “drove around the barricades on N.C. 218 and continued traveling east until her vehicle encountered rushing water flowing across the road,” said a sheriff’s office Facebook post. “She managed to free herself and Kaiden, who was in a car seat, but lost her grip on him in the rushing water.”

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In Dallas, N.C., 3-month-old Kade Gill died Sunday after a tree fell into a family’s mobile home and struck the boy and his mother as they sat on a couch, reported the Charlotte Observer. His mother, Tammy Gill, was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries, said the Observer.

The first child death from the storm was a 7-month-old baby killed Friday morning in Wilmington, also by a tree that fell into a home. The child’s 41-year-old mother was hit and killed by the same tree, said a tweet by Wilmington Police.

Among the other deaths:

  • A 68-year-old victim was electrocuted Friday in Lenoir County while “trying to connect two extension cords outside in the rain,” reported TV station WNCN.

  • A 77-year-old Kinston man died at 8 a.m. Thursday when he was “blown down by the wind” while tending dogs, WNCN reported.
  • Three died in Duplin County “due to flash flooding and swift water on roadways,” reported WNCN. All three incidents involved people who were “swept away” while in vehicles, the station reported.
  • An 81-year-old man in Wayne County died Friday while evacuating, the Associated Press reported.
  • A couple, both age 86, died in a house fire in Cumberland County Friday, according to the Fayetteville Observer.
  • On Sunday, a 61-year-old on a moped was killed while evacuating in Columbus County, according to the Governor’s Office.
  • A 56-year-old man died in Cleveland County Sunday after his tractor trailer hydroplaned, traveled off road and overturned, according to a release from the Governor’s Office.

  • A 56-year-old Onslow County man was found on his back porch. He fell and the home showed water damage and leaking, said a statement from the Governor’s Office.

  • A 25-year-old Gaston County man died Saturday while riding as an “unrestrained passenger” in an SUV that was “traveling too fast in rain,” according to a release from the Governor’s Office.

  • A 73-year-old man was found in a submerged vehicle on Sunday in Scotland County, said the Governor’s Office.

  • Duplin County had a fourth death, involving a person who died in a vehicle swept off the road by water, said the Governor’s Office. The body was discovered during a recovery operation for another victim, officials said.

  • A 73-year-old male in Sampson County died of COPD, but the governor’s office said his death is storm related because he was without power for his oxygen concentrator.

  • A 62-year-old man died in Sampson County after he collapsed assisting an evacuee, according to the governor’s office.

  • A 65-year-old man was found in a submerged vehicle in Scotland County, the governor’s office said.

  • A 37-year-old man died in a vehicle crash after hydroplaning across the yellow line and hitting another vehicle in Onslow County, according to the governor’s office.

  • A 83-year-old man died in a vehicle crash due to driving through a washed out roadway and colliding with a cement culvert, the governor’s office reported.

  • In Anson County on Monday, the NC Highway Patrol notified that a vehicle was washed off the road. the vehicle was occupied by a single person whose body was recovered from the vehicle.

In South Carolina, the deaths also included multiple drivers who crashed after encountering flood waters or fallen trees on roads.

The first fatality in Virginia was confirmed Monday. One person died when a building collapsed, according to a tweet from Chesterfield Fire/EMS public information officer Lt. Jason Elmore.

Other deaths have been reported but not directly linked to the storm.

On Monday, authorities reported someone died at a New Hanover County flood shelter, but it was not made clear if that death is to be counted among the storm deaths, reported WECT.

The Wilmington Star News reported the death occurred at Hoggard High School, where a shelter had been set up for storm evacuees.

Other deaths not directly linked to the storm include a woman who died in a shelter and a woman who had a heart attack and died during the storm while waiting for an ambulance, reported the Associated Press.

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Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs