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Body of Florida man missing after Hurricane Ian found on sunken sailboat

Body of Florida man missing after Hurricane Ian found on sunken sailboat

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Nearly four months after Hurricane Ian devastated Florida, the body of a man who went missing after the storm was found in a sunken sailboat off Fort Myers Beach, Lee County officials said. The discovery of the man’s body comes just days after the same authorities announced they had found the remains of an 82-year-old woman who also went missing after the storm.

Lee County Clerks first announced the discovery of the sunken sailboat on Friday afternoon. A dive team has recovered the boat, dubbed the Good Girl, in Matanzas Pass, saying James “Denny” Hurst, 72, was last known to have been aboard the boat when Hurricane Ian hit the state in September.

On Sunday, County Sheriff Carmine Marcheno tweeted that the remains had been positively identified as Hearst’s. His family has been notified, Marcheno said.

Hurst was the last person in the county still considered missing by authorities after authorities announced last week that the remains of the 82-year-old Ilonka Knes is found in mangrove thickets.

Hurst’s nephew, Jeff Hurst, posted on Facebook that his uncle’s boat was spotted during low tide in the area. In the end, he said, it was “submerged just a few tenths of a mile from the marina where it was tied up when Hurricane Ian hit.”

Crew members from Sea Hag Marina in Fort Myers, who were helping clean up after the deadly storm, helped the sheriff’s office locate Hearst, saying the sailboat was spotted in 18 feet of water “with enough visibility to see a piece from a boat.”

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office says the remains of the last man still missing from Hurricane Ian have been found aboard a sunken sailboat in Fort Myers.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office/Twitter

“Our guys were able to help the dive team get the boat out of the water and onto land,” the marina said on Facebook. “…If the water hadn’t been clear today, we’re not sure how much longer it would have taken for the boat to be seen. The definition of divine timing is the belief that everything in your life happens at exactly the right time, and we truly believe that today was one of those days for everyone involved.”

Before Hurst and Kness’ remains were found, the Florida Board of Medical Examiners said there were 145 confirmed deaths from Hurricane Ian, bringing the total to 147.

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