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. banasy©

    *Facepalm*™

    Condolences to the families and friends of those who passed.

    August 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. physics-lite

    Condolences to the families and friends of those who passed God Bless them.

    August 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Daisy

    Very tragic, but some were very senseless deaths. When they say stay indoors or evacuate, they mean it.

    August 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • U-Turn

      Wait! You mean, I shouldn't go out and surf in this weather?! But...those waves...look at em! I would die to be able to hang ten on those!

      August 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suncatcher

      We need a new law to protect our first responders like EMT Kenwood who put himself, as did his colleagues, in harm's way to rescue an idiot driving in flooded streets. (Turns out the driver had abandoned the flooded car).

      Henceforth – such drivers should be charged with paying for all first responder funeral expenses, the college education of any of their children and the living expenses of the deceased family until the children are 18.

      The police have the car so they know who owned it. Put that person's name, photo, employer and contact info on the newspaper front page, above the fold. They should do this for ANYONE caught driving when told not to, whether they cause the death of emergency personnel or not. Enough is enough. There are too many stupid and selfish morons out there, especially when the weather is bad. If you can't stop them, then make them pay – literally.

      August 30, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cypher News Network

    Yes.. Stay indoors when the nation that bombs everyone in existence tells you to stay in.. It's like the boy who cried wolf.

    August 30, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      CNN,
      Go somewher else if you can do better. Eh, can't? Put up or shut up.

      August 30, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • JC-VA

      A great Nation, so if by any chance you happen to live in here, I'd recommend you to MOVE!

      August 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck in Jasper, Ga.

      and you are like the spoiled child everyone has come across, seeking attention.

      August 30, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dwerbil

    Hey MICHELE BACHMAN, read this article. There's now over 40 humans killed by Hurricane Irene.

    You are so pathetic making jokes about this.

    August 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bonzai

      Note to all politicians it just isn't funny when you joke about death & disaster. I know a few people in VT who were impacted beyond belief so me not having power for a few days & losing a tree & a fence isn't so bad. To use this as a joke & ever more astounding to say God is trying to get your attention with this??? Funny the God I know doesn't destroy people's lives when other are not listening. My God is not vengeful.

      August 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Common Sensor

    A simple precaution would be to carry a life jacket during hurricane season.

    August 30, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. yada

    My condolences to the family and friends, of course. But I just have to say, how long is the media going to milk this? Sure, report on the aftermath but come on...how many numerous, sensational headlines do we need? I don't mean any disrespect to the people that suffered through this, the lost lives or the people still in dire straights...it,s just a complete "turn off" knowing how the news media will continue to make big bucks off other people's misery. That sucks, IMHO.

    August 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. IDGAD

    Just a routine culling of the herd by the planet, folks. Move along, nothing to see here...

    August 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Real Tom Paine

      Cull yourself. You're certainly not worth anything, not after that appalling remark.

      August 30, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. slider

    It would have been a lot worse if the President had not waved his hand and stopped the storm.

    August 30, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobJ

      Yes, President Obama is that powerful. Now shut up or we will have him slap you upside the head.

      August 31, 2011 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. sue

    Isn't this hilarious, Michelle?

    August 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Otto

    Sad story, many stayed inside and died. Emergency rescue members died too, a little boy his his bed died. The moral of the story is that one should TRY to be as safe as possible BUT there are times when danger comes to you and there's nothing one can do to stop it. Very sad and I wish the families well while they TRY to recover.

    August 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • DebS

      well said!

      August 31, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. Horizons

    But Glen Beck says all this was a blessing......

    August 30, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dieyoung

      Glenn Beck is a moron

      August 31, 2011 at 2:43 am | Report abuse |
  13. Chappy

    Condolences to the families and friends of those who passed in this disaster. Hats off to the many ordinary citizens that risk their lives to help those in need.

    August 30, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. liz48

    If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
    2Chronicles 7:14

    Your land could be your little cottage – but you have got to be in a place that you have humbled yourself to hear from The Lord God, Father of the Lord Jesus Christ Who is a personal God and a Good Father...

    He will tell you, if you are open to hearing, where to stay, when to leave, etc.

    August 30, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan, TX

      So you are saying the people who died, died because they didn't love Jesus enough? I don't understand what you are trying to say. From what I do understand, it makes me a bit sick.

      August 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dieyoung

      Not another religious nut who thinks it is a punishment. Dude, this is not the 15th century, keep that crap to yourself.

      August 31, 2011 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  15. yeah

    i agree

    August 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
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