Hurricane Ian fatally launched elderly woman from her home into a canal
The horrors of Hurricane Ian continue to emerge more than a week after the historic storm bludgeoned southwest Florida.
An elderly, bedridden woman desperately texted her panicked brother just moments before a wall of water crashed into her home and fatally launched her into a canal across the street, sources told The Post.
Peggy Collson, 67, of Matlacha in hard hit Lee County, lived alone in a one-story waterfront home — a quaint fishing village near Pine Island.
While she had weathered prior hurricanes without evacuating, Collson grew increasingly nervous about Ian’s mammoth scale and asked a local shelter if they could accommodate her special needs.
Originally from Elmira, New York, she was dependent on daily visits from an aide to move from her bed to her wheelchair and knew she would be vulnerable if the floodwaters rose.
But the shelter, a heartbroken relative told The Post, could not meet her medical needs and told Collson that she would likely have to remain in a wheelchair during her time at the facility.
“She said she wasn’t going to do that,” he told The Post. “She couldn’t just stay in a wheelchair for that long.”
Collson texted her relative as the hurricane lashed Matlacha, worried that her home’s dated seawall — comprised of piled burlap sacks filled with concrete — would buckle under the storm.
Immobilized in bed, her fears were soon realized.
“The wall just broke down,” she texted her relative. “The water is coming in.”
Panicked, the relative sent several follow up messages that went ominously unanswered.
The storm surge soon crashed through the waterfront side of her home and swept Collson out of the structure and into a canal across the street. She was discovered floating in the debris-strewn waters by a shocked neighbor after the storm passed.
In the immediate post-storm fog, Collson’s friends and kin frantically called local officials for any word on her fate but got nowhere. It took several days before neighbors and then Lee County Sheriff’s Office were able to confirm her death.
Collson, who was unmarried and had no children, was remembered as a kindly woman who adored baking and making desserts for her family and neighbors.
Despite her physical limitations, she chatted frequently with residents in the tightly-knit community and was reliably upbeat.
Collson’s modest home looked as if had been struck by mortar shelling in the storm’s aftermath, with walls crumbled and the sodden remains of her life still strewn across her front yard.
“It’s hard to imagine what she was thinking as that water kept coming,” a distressed neighbor said of Collson’s end.
“It’s hard for me to even think about it now.”
World News || Latest News || U.S. News