Tropical Storm Nicole: Death Toll in Florida Rises to Five

by Sean Griffin
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Tropical Storm Nicole has now officially claimed the lives of at least 5 people in Florida. The hurricane changed to a tropical storm while making landfall on the state’s east coast Thursday.

Two people were fatally electrocuted by a downed power line in Orlando. Then, two others tragically died in a crash on Florida’s Turnpike. Lastly, a fifth person died while aboard a yacht, according to authorities.

In the electrocution deaths, the victims stepped out of their car and were struck by a downed power line. The incident occurred at Bayfront Parkway and Pershing Avenue at around 9:30 a.m. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings announced the tragic news during a news conference.

“This really is a reminder to use extreme caution while out after a storm,” Demings said. “Never touch a downed power line. Always assume that it is a live wire.”

More than 300,000 power outages have been reported across Florida as of early Thursday afternoon.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the deaths. Two others died in a car crash around 5:45 a.m. on the Florida Turnpike within Orange County Thursday morning, Demings said.

The driver of a pickup truck lost control. The truck swerved towards the shoulder of the roadway, where a tow truck was parked, Florida Highway Patrol told WESH 2 News.

The 53-year-old male pickup truck driver hit the 42-year-old driver of the tow truck. The man was standing behind his vehicle at the time. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Tragic Deaths in Florida Caused by Tropical Storm Nicole

Florida Highway Patrol is also investigating the crash.

A fifth person died while aboard a docked yacht during the storm’s peak, according to reports.

Thomas Whittle, 68, died early Thursday morning on his boat docked at Lee Wenner Park. The incident occurred in Cocoa on the state’s east coast, police told Florida Today.

The Port Canaveral man’s wife, who was also on the ship, called 911 just after 4:33 a.m. She said her husband was in distress.

Emergency personnel responded and boarded the boat where they began CPR on Whittle. As they were doing so, the yacht broke loose from the dock and started drifting away, police said.

The rescuers were able to secure it with lines and rushed Whittle to a local hospital. However, he could not be saved. His cause of death has not been released.

Tropical Storm Nicole made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just south of Vero Beach, Florida around 3 a.m. Nicole then lost wind intensity and was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Even so, the storm pummeled the Sunshine State, wreaking havoc on many areas still recovering from Hurricane Ian six weeks ago.

Nicole battered Florida’s east coast with sustained winds of up to 75 miles per hours.The storm included dangerous storm surge, powerful waves, and heavy rains.

A state of emergency was called for 45 of the state’s 67 counties and many residents were forced to evacuate.