August 31st, 2011
12:35 PM ET

Popular teacher, public servant, rescuer, Holocaust survivor among Irene's dead

One of the first U.S. casualties from Hurricane Irene, which killed 43 people, was a popular Florida teacher who suffered a fatal head injury Saturday when a big wave knocked him down.

Frederick Fernandez, 55, an algebra teacher at New Smyrna Beach High School, was known as a skilled surfer, according to CNN affiliate WESH. Although the brunt of the storm missed Florida by hundreds of miles, it stirred up high surf that brought many, including Fernandez, out to the beach.

Fernandez was standing in shallow water when a large wave bowled him over and slammed his head against the compacted sand, WESH reported.

Principal Jim Tager couldn't bring himself to speak of Fernandez in the past tense.

"He's just well-respected," he told WESH. "The family is well-respected. They are from our community, and it hurts. I hope it brings us all closer together, and he is just a fine man, and I know many of us wish we could be just like him."

In East Hanover Township, Pennsylvania, a man who was camping out during a fundraising motorcycle run was killed when a tree fell on his tent early Sunday, CNN affiliate WGAL reported.

Walter Bruder, 58, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was among about 20 people camping at a heavily forested military reservation, officials told WGAL. A second person in the tent suffered a skull fracture, WGAL reported.

A Connecticut man became the only fatality of the storm in New Hampshire when a tree fell on him and another man as they worked to clear another fallen tree, CNN affiliate WMUR reported. The second man was injured. The men's names were not released.

Two would-be rescuers, a visitor from Macedonia and a Holocaust survivor are also among the victims, officials say.

Michael Kenwood, an emergency medical technician in Princeton, New Jersey, was part of a team checking on a car that was swamped by flooding on a city street, CNN affiliate WPVI reported.

Commanders had called the swift-water rescue team back after determining the rushing water was too dangerous. On the return, two of the team members slipped; one resurfaced and got out safely but Kenwood did not, WPVI reported.

In Spring Valley, New York, David Reichenberg, 50, a father of four, was electrocuted Sunday while saving a man and his 6-year-old son from a downed power line, the New York Daily News reported.

Reichenberg was able to separate the boy and man from a fence that had become electrified but then touched the wire himself, according to the Daily News. The boy and his father suffered burns, but Reichenberg was killed.

Rescuers could not approach Reichenberg for several minutes until utility workers shut off power to the downed line, a witness said. Reichenberg was pronounced dead at the scene.

Twenty-year-old visiting worker Ivana Taseva drowned in the Deerfield River in southern Vermont, the Burlington Free Press reported.

Taseva, who was from Macedonia, was part of a work program at the Mount Snow ski area farther north in Dover, where she was on the housekeeping staff, the paper reported.

High water overtook the car carrying Taseva and three male friends; the men were able to escape, but Taseva was not, Wilmington Police Chief Joe Szarejko told the Free Press.

Another European native, Rozalia Stern-Gluck of Brooklyn, New York, drowned when more than 6 feet of water swamped a Catskills cottage where she was staying, the New York Daily News reported.

Stern-Gluck, 82, was born in Russia and had survived the Holocaust, a Hasidic community leader in Brooklyn told the paper.

"She survived Hitler, but she couldn't survive Irene," Isaac Abraham said.

Sharon Stein, 68, of Slingerlands, New York, was swept away in the Onesquethaw Creek in Clarksville, CNN affiliate WNYT reported.  She had last been seen Sunday putting belongings into her car as she and her husband, Geoffrey Stein, prepared to evacuate their home along the rushing creek, according to CNN affiliate WTEN.

Neighbor Patty Pietro told WTEN she had turned down an offer from Sharon Stein to help her move furniture to an upper floor.

"I said, 'I'll call you if I think you can help me,'" Pietro said, starting to weep. "The next thing I hear (is) she's gone. Just think, if I had had her at my house - really, she'd be here."

A New York City man apparently drowned when he went to check on his boat at the height of the storm Sunday morning, CNN affiliate NY1 reported.

The body of Jose Sierra, 68, of the Bronx was found in the water near Sunset Marina on City Island around 8 p.m. Sunday, police told NY1.

In Rutland, Vermont, a city employee was among the dead. Michael Joseph Garofano, 55, Rutland's water treatment plant supervisor, died; his son Michael Gregory Garofano, 24, is missing.

The men went to check on the city's water reservoir as the storm raged on Sunday, CNN affiliate WCAX reported.

"Apparently the bank gave way and they were swept away," Frank Urso, the elder Garofano's brother-in-law, said.

The father's body was recovered in the Vermont river; searchers are looking for the son.

"I feel hollow inside," Urso told WCAX. "I've had an emptiness in my stomach since I heard about it."

Mikita Fox, 23, of Wikemikong, Ontario, and Danine Swamp, 24, of Nedrow, New York, died after their car plunged from a washed-out bridge into the Great Chazy River in Altona, New York, near the Vermont line and the Canadian border, WCAX reported.

"When I looked out there, I saw the taillights," witness Lionel Peryea told WCAX. "I tried yelling, but it was no good. The river was such a roar. It was unreal. That was the last I seen of it."

In Ayden, North Carolina, Tim Avery, 50, was crushed by a falling tree as he watched TV in his living room, Town Manager Adam Mitchell said. Avery's sister hadn't heard from him since the storm passed through on Saturday, so she went to check on him and found the tree lying on the house, CNN affiliate WRAL reported.

Similar circumstances killed 11-year-old Zahir Robinson: A tree fell onto his Newport News, Virginia, apartment Saturday as he lay on his bed, CNN affiliate WAVY reported.

Charles Kelley, a security guard, had tried to rescue Zahir.

"When you can't save somebody, that's when it hurts the most, you know what I mean?" he told WAVY.

Shane Seaver of Bristol, Connecticut, had been working on a remodeling project Sunday at his friend Ray Clyma's house, the Hartford Courant newspaper reported. As the storm was dying down, the two men decided to take a canoe to check out flooding in the neighborhood, but the vessel was swept away by the Pequabuck River.

"We had no intention of getting in the river," Clyma told the Courant. "It just happened really fast. Once the water took us, there was nothing we could do."

The rushing water carried the canoe under tree branches and a bridge, and 46-year-old Seaver disappeared. His body was found Sunday night.

"He was a great guy," Clyma told the Courant. "He would have done anything for anybody. This is a real tough time."

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Filed under: Connecticut • Flooding • Hurricane Irene • New Jersey • New York • North Carolina • U.S. • Vermont • Weather
soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Jazzzzzzzz

    @ gung hoe, sorry are you still there ?

    August 31, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jazzzzzzzz

    @ gung hoe, Hey lets meet on the (Glacier thread) this one stinks, cause its posting all weird

    August 31, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. gung hoe

    Jazzzz as if you havnt been able to tell by my post i am quite religous in fact i am a lay minister Ido the liturgy and childrens serman every sunday and when the minisiter is on Vacation i give the service 6 weeks a year But anyways thanzx again youve given me something for sunday And you didnt even know you were doing it

    August 31, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Jazzzzzzzz

    @ GUNG HOE.... DON'T GOOOOOO , meet me on the (GLACIER THREADEDDDDD) LOL

    August 31, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. s kel

    Hey gung ho, ummmm what everit is getting u down , things allways improve. IT WILL GET BETTER.

    August 31, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Ywgwie malmsteen

    Hey there is a hurricane lets go surfing! people are soo assinine. i once jumped outta airplane pretty dumb too tho

    September 1, 2011 at 2:33 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Pedro

    Very sad when something so tragic happens to people so young.

    September 1, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. HH

    I always like to speak in the present tense about people who have passed-away too. It keeps them alive in a sense. It's awkward for me to say "I loved them so much" when I still love them. I like reading about how there is another person who thinks like that. Irene was scary, and I pray for all the people affected

    September 8, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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