Irma Toll Rises: Florida Gov. Will 'Aggressively Demand Answers' After 8 Die at a Hollywood Nursing Home

Pam Wright
Published: September 13, 2017

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he will "aggressively demand answers" after eight people died Wednesday at a Hollywood, Florida, nursing home that was having issues with its AC system.

According to Local 10 News, Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief said during a morning news conference that two people died at the facility and three more died at nearby Memorial Regional Hospital. Later in the morning, three more people were confirmed dead. 

Hollywood Police Chief Tomas Sanchez said at a press conference earlier Wednesday that the deaths might have been heat-related.

"We are conducting a criminal investigation (and) not ruling anything out at this time," Sanchez said.

"I am absolutely heartbroken," Scott tweeted Wednesday. "Although the details of these reported deaths are still under investigation, this situation is unfathomable." 

(MORE: Irma's Staggering Toll)

The Office of the Broward Medical Examiner and Trauma Services identified the victims as:

• Bobby Owens, 64 
• Manuel Mario Medieta, 96
• Miguel Antonio Franco, 92
• Estella Hendricks, 71
• Gail Nova, 71
• Carolyn Eatherly, 78
• Betty Hibbard, 84
• Albertina Vega, 99

Scott said he has directed the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Families to "immediately work with local law enforcement to conduct an investigation.

"If they find that anyone wasn't acting in the best interests of their patients, we will hold them accountable to the fullest extent of the law," he added

Hot temperatures are likely to continue for several days in Florida with highs reaching the middle 80s to near 90, meteorologist Chris Dolce says.

"Little relief is expected at night with humid conditions and lows only dipping into the 70s," Dolce added. 

Firefighters arrived at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills around 7:30 a.m. and began evacuating about 113 people from the nursing home, CNN reports. 

Larkin Community Hospital, which is adjacent to the retirement home, was also evacuated.

A nursing home employee told NBC Miami that the building was cool as of Tuesday, but that when he returned Wednesday morning, it was overheated. 

A man trying to repair the AC unit, Airstron employee Dave Long, told Local 10 a fuse that cooled the AC unit popped out during Hurricane Irma and needed to be repaired. He added that calls to Florida Power & Light had not been returned.

"There's nothing we can do," Long said. "We've been calling and calling. ... It just doesn't seem to be going anywhere and I can't do anything until we get that fuse popped back in."

Sanchez said 42 other nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Hollywood will be checked as a precautionary measure.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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