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  10/02/2017 AG Walker: Five hurricane-related deaths recorded in the Territory  

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.

            “On 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 Hurricane Maria.”

Relying on 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 Walker said.

“The first 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 Hurricane Maria.”

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.

  AG Walker said five hurricane-related deaths recorded in the Territory.pdf