North Carolina

17 deaths in the Carolinas linked to Florence flooding, fallen trees and power outages

There have been 11 deaths in North Carolina and six in South Carolina linked to Hurricane Florence.

Wilmington Police reported on Twitter that a tree fell on a house on Mercer Avenue, killing a mother and baby around 9:30 a.m. Friday. The father was pulled from the home and transported to a local hospital with injuries, police said.

Gov. Roy Cooper confirmed one of the deaths occurred in Lenoir County, when someone was plugging in a generator, according to a press release. TV station WNCN said the 78-year-old victim and was “trying to connect two extension cords outside in the rain.”

The station reported the fourth death involved a 77-year-old Kinston man who family members said died at 8 a.m. Friday when he was “blown down by the wind” while tending dogs.

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“Our hearts go out to the families of those who died in this storm,” Cooper said in a statement. “Hurricane Florence is going to continue its violent grind across our state for days. Be extremely careful and stay alert.”

Three people died in Duplin County “due to flash flooding and swift water on roadways,” the Duplin County Sherrif’s Office announced Saturday.

An 81-year-old man in Wayne County who fell and struck his head while packing to evacuate Friday is being counted as a storm-related death by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Raleigh, The Associated Press reported. A husband and wife who died in a house fire in Cumberland County on Friday are also being counted as linked to the storm, according to the Associated Press and The Fayetteville Observer.

A 3-month-old baby was killed Sunday after a tree fell on a mobile home in Dallas, N.C., according to Gaston County Commissioner Tracy Philbeck.

The boy was home with family when the tree fell, reported The Charlotte Observer. No one else was hurt.

In South Carolina, a 61-year-old woman died when the vehicle she was driving hit a fallen tree on Highway 18 near Union, The Associated Press reported. The tree was about 6 feet above the road surface and the vehicle’s roof struck the tree, Capt. Kelley Hughes of the South Carolina Highway Patrol told The Associated Press.

The Horry County Coroner’s Office confirmed that Debra Collins Rion, 61, and Mark Carter King, 63, died Friday night from carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator, the Myrtle Beach Sun News reported.

Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson on Sunday said 23-year-old Michael Dalton Prince drowned in floodwaters inside an overturned truck, according to The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety reported a fatal collision in Kershaw County Sunday at 7 a.m. A pick-up truck was north of Columbia on I-20’s westbound lanes, near the 106 mile marker, when it ran off the road and hit an overpass support beam.

The driver, identified as 42-year-old Jeffery B. Youngren of Elgin, died on scene, according to the Kershaw County Coroner. Although Coroner David A. West reported Youngren was not wearing a seat belt, he said “the weather played a big part in his death.”

Just before 5 p.m., the SCDPS reported another fatality on the road. This occurred at 6 a.m. in Lexington County, when a pick-up truck drove into standing water on Pond Branch Road, near the Columbia-area suburb of Gilbert, they said.

30-year-old Rhonda Rebecca Hartley of Leesville was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher, who said Hartley was not wearing a seat belt when she struck a tree.

A person died inside the West Brunswick High School shelter Thursday morning, but that death was “not related to the storm,” according to Amanda Hutcheson, a Brunswick County spokeswoman.

“We are saddened by the sudden passing of one of our community, and our hearts go out to the family and friends who are now grieving during such an already stressful period,” Hutcheson said in a statement. “An investigation into the cause of death is underway, but it appears there is no reason for others at the shelter to worry. Staff and responders at the shelters are committed to providing a safe location to citizens during the storm.”

Carteret County reported two deaths on Saturday, but in a later news release said sheriff’s deputies and Army National Guard soldiers responding to a home found Pauly Lewis and his wife, Alicia Lewis dead “in an apparent murder/suicide.”

Also in North Carolina, the death of a Pender County woman who officials said had a heart attack was not considered to be caused by the storm, The AP reported. The woman’s death was originally counted as storm-related because fallen trees had reportedly blocked rescuers from reaching her home.

The deaths came as the storm was turning through the southeast part of the state, dumping more than 20 inches of rain in some communities. Gusts of winds in the 50 to 100 mph hour range were also reported since Hurricane Florence came ashore at 7:15 a.m. Friday, and the National Hurricane Center predicted trees would be knocked down.

The National Hurricane Center says the high winds — combined with rain-soaked soil — will cause many trees to fall in coming days, crashing into homes, streets and onto power lines.

Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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