Man Sucked Into Drain Pipe, Dies; Hurricane Irene's Death Toll Rises

Holocaust survivor, good Samaritan among those dead.

Thursday, Sep 1, 2011  |  Updated 6:29 AM EDT
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A man clearing debris from a drainage basin at the Shemin Nurseries in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, died after being sucked into a drain pipe on Tuesday, marking the eighteenth Irene-related death in the tri-state area.

Emergency crews using cameras searched for 47-year-old Cesar Ortiz but could not get to him in time. Police Sgt. Brian Caloiaro told The Star-Ledger Ortiz was found dead shortly after 10 p.m. at the Ewing Lawrence Sewerage Authority's treatment plant.      

Police declined to comment on whether Ortiz was an employee or subcontractor at the nursery.    

On Sunday, Rozalia Stern-Gluck, an 82-year-old Holocaust Survivor from Brooklyn, drowned in a motel while vacationing in the Catskills.

"She survived Hitler, but she couldn't survive Irene," Isaac Abraham, a leader of the Brooklyn Hasadic community, told the Daily News.

Stern-Gluck was trapped in the Valkyrie Motel in Fleishmanns when the storm hit, according to VIN News, an Orthodox jewish news site. She yelled for help, but by the time rescue workers found her, she was dead.

So far, nine people have died in New York state, seven in New Jersey, and two in Connecticut as a result of Irene.

Local fatalities

On City Island, the body of a 68-year-old Bronx man was pulled out of the water at Sunset Marina around 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The New York City medical examiner said the death of Jose Sierra was ruled an accidental drowning related to the storm. 

In New Jersey, the body of 25-year-old Jorge Hernandez of Point Pleasant Beach was found around 10:40 a.m. Monday in a jetty of the Manasquan River inlet. A second man was found in a nearby area of the inlet in Point Pleasant Beach about two and a half hours later.

Officials learned Hernandez and another man had planned to go to the inlet early Sunday, possibly to watch the storm's approach.

Police also reported in New Jersey Monday that Princeton emergency medical technician Michael Kenwood died after being swept up in floodwaters Sunday. Kenwood and a second squad member had entered a flooded roadway to check on a vehicle when they were recalled because it was unsafe.

Police say both ended up cast unsecured in the water but the second rescue worker regained his footing. Kenwood was hospitalized in critical condition. It was later determined the vehicle they were trying to reach was unoccupied.

Gov. Chris Christie wrongly reported Sunday that the EMT had already died. He later apologized for having received bad information.

On Sunday night, the body of 46-year-old Bristol, Conn., man washed ashore late Sunday night in Plainville. Police said Shane Seaver and another man went canoeing down East Main Street in the flood waters left by Irene on Sunday afternoon.

The canoe capsized. Police say the other man made it to shore. Seaver's death was the second in Connecticut linked to the storm.      

Also Sunday, a man died in Rockland County, N.Y. when he was electrocuted while trying to rescue a boy from downed wires, officials said.

A 5-year-old Spring Valley boy got himself into live wires in Irene rainwater, and a bystander rushed to help, according to Rockland County communications director Ron Levine. The man was electrocuted in the process, and died.

The boy, severely burned by the wires, was initially taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern. He was then rushed to the burn unit at Westchester Hospital, escorted by New York State Police.

The storm brought 6.5 inches of rain to Rockland County.

"The fact that he took the time and the risk in this type of situation makes him nothing less than a good Samaritan," said Levine. "It's a deep tragedy."

The victim has not been identified, but he was believed to be in his 50s.

Police in the Westchester County village of Croton said one man died when he and four other people tried to take an inflatable raft into the Croton River near the Croton Dam on Sunday and fell into the water.

Four of the men were rescued.

Despite a nearly 6-hour rescue attempt, Croton police, aided by the NYPD and state and local police and fire officials, could not save the fifth man.

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