Checking in on Kevin Ott one year after heroic Hurricane Ian rescue

Reporter: Nicole Gabe Writer: Nicholas Karsen
Published: Updated:

As Southwest Floridians reflect on Hurricane Ian’s impact, WINK News re-visits a heroic man who braved the storm to save people.

Kevin Ott has Hurricane Ian forever seared into his memory, as he recounts how the powerful storm tested him. Ott, alongside his children, endured the stormy conditions in South Fort Myers on their pontoon boat to save their Grandmother, Mary Ann Deneen.

“I’ve been through every major hurricane from Charlie to Wilma, and we never had an inch of water in our house until Ian, and then I had eight feet,” said Deneen.

She was trapped inside her home with her daughter, her daughter’s boyfriend and their pets.

First responders could not reach her, so it became Ott’s duty to stage the rescue.

“My neighbor’s propane tank lodged underneath my broken garage door and was feeding propane in, and he thought we were going to blow up,” said Ott, “so that’s when we swim through the house, out the kitchen window onto the canoe.”

Other people needed rescuing as well. Kristin Millar and her family were clinging onto a tree for multiple hours before Ott arrived.

I don’t remember what they said when the boat came. I just feel when I got on it, they had Bryce who was protected. My husband was there, and I crawled into a fetal position, and I just said, “OK, like, we’re good, and then we started picking up more people,” said Millar.

Ott saved 12 people, two cats and a dog. Now Ott reflects on the storm a year later with his mantra, “Keep going and help others.”

“When you need to step up and do something for somebody, when it comes to family, step up and do it. If it’s not family, you still step up and try doing something for somebody,” said Ott.

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