ST. THOMAS, V.I. – Attorney General Claude Earl Walker has
announced that the U.S. Virgin Islands’ official death toll from Hurricanes
Irma and Maria stands at five.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria, both Category 5 storms, passed through the Territory
within two weeks of each other.
During a press
conference held Monday morning at the Department of Justice’s conference room,
AG Walker updated the public on the hurricane-related deaths in the islands.
or about Sept. 6, 2017, when Hurricane Irma reached the Virgin Islands, several
deaths were reported and the Department of Justice, Office of the Medical
Examiner, took charge of the bodies,” AG Walker said. “As the Attorney General, I made a request to
the Medical Examiner to conduct autopsies to determine whether these deaths
were directly caused by the effects of Hurricane Irma. In addition, on or about Sept. 20, 2017, when
Hurricane Maria reached the Virgin Islands, additional deaths were also
reported and… a similar request was made by me to the Medical Examiner to
conduct autopsies to determine whether those deaths were due to the effects of
information from the Virgin Islands Medical Examiners, Dr. Jacqueline Pender,
who was present at the conference, and Dr. Francisco Landron, AG Walker
ascertained the total number of deaths from the two hurricanes, revealing the
names of the victims and their causes of death. Acting Director of the Department of Justice’s
Forensic Unit Robert Soto also attended the press conference.
“As of Oct. 2,
2017,” AG Walker announced in a rather plaintive tone, “the following three
deaths occurred due to the direct effects of Hurricane Irma – the first
decedent is Ishmael Harrigan, aged 40, of Est. Mariendahl. He was a sergeant in the Virgin Islands
National Guard and a sergeant in the Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections. The second decedent is Ms. Carlena Penn, aged
38, of Est. Anna’s Retreat. The third
decedent is Mr. Jason Julius, aged 46, a lineman with the Virgin Islands Water
and Power Authority.”
According to AG
Walker, Sgt. Harrigan died at his home from blunt force trauma suffered on
Sept. 6 at his home in Est. Mariendahl.
Penn also succumbed to blunt force trauma due to a fall at the Tutu
Hi-Rise Complex where she lived. The
incident occurred on Sept. 6. Julius
died from high voltage electrocution while he tried to help restore power in
Sugar Estate, St. Thomas, on Sept. 12.
As of Oct. 2,
2017, the number of fatalities associated with Hurricane Maria numbered two, AG
decedent is Mr. Maurice Jackson, aged 66, of Est. Anna’s Retreat, who drowned
due to flooding at his on Sept. 20,” AG Walker said. “The second decedent is Mr. Ralph Evert III,
aged 57, of Est. Frenchman’s Bay, St. Thomas, who died due to asphyxiation and
blunt force trauma after being trapped in his home by a mudslide. His body was found Sept. 24, a few days after
All five victims
lived on St. Thomas, the capital of the Virgin Islands. AG Walker said his office has formally
notified the families for each victim.
AG Walker added
that if the number of hurricane-related deaths should increase, based on
newly-discovered fact and information, the public will be so notified.
“We are aware of
at least one person on St. John who may have died as a result of one of the
storms, but the Medical Examiner will have to review that as well as the
forensic unit to make a determination,” AG Walker said.
AG Walker also
used the occasion to pay respects to the more than 50 people who died Sunday
night during a shooting rampage at a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, by opening
his press conference with a moment of silence for the victims.