How an 89-year-old man was rescued from debris on Fort Myers Beach

Reporter: Marcello Cuadra Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
89-year-old man being rescued on Fort Myers Beach. (Credit: Kory Lane)

Amid all the damage from Hurricane Ian, there are stories of hope and survival. Stories that involve the community and the kindness of strangers.

One Fort Myers Beach woman knows that all too well. “All the walls around us collapsed. There was still some frame left.”

She thought her dad had died, but her father was rescued from the rubble.

“You’re OK, you’re OK, we got you, we got you.”

It’s a video you can only describe as a miracle. A group of men pulled an 89-year-old man from the debris on Fort Myers Beach on Sept. 29.

“From what I’m hearing, he was in that house for the hurricane. So, pretty scary,” said James Cox, one of the men who helped save the man.

Cox said as he walked on the beach with a friend, he heard a voice. From there, it quickly became a rescue mission.

“So start walking up the rubble, and we were asking him, you know, ‘Hey, man, do you need help?’ And he’s like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know if I need help.’ And we’re like, ‘OK, how long have you been here?’ And he’s like, ‘I was here since Ian,'” said Cox.

From there, he and his friend quickly went to get help, and they used debris in the area to build a makeshift ramp to help get the man out.

“There was five of us that were able to pick them up on the rack. And he was obviously still knowing he was scared that he was gonna fall off the rack. And I was like, ‘Hey, you don’t have to worry, we have you, you know, we’re gonna get you down to the ground and then let the doctor looked at you and see what we can do,'” Cox said.

The rescue doesn’t end there. Cox asked a bystander with a walkie-talkie to call for help.

“And he’s like, ‘Let me get a hold of Coast Guard,’ and real quick, so you put them on, and we got coast guard the longitude and latitude lines of where we were behind each wall. And within five minutes, the helicopter was there dropping down to bring him in,” said Cox.

How does Cox feel about saving a man’s life?

“I mean, I just think about it… it kind of defines Fort Myers Beach: small, small, tight-knit family style. That’s what I would want, then, for me. Pretty intense. Yeah, glad he made it,” said Cox.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.