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Remains found with sunken sailboat identified as missing Fort Myers Beach man

By Staff | Jan 16, 2023

FORT MYERS (AP) — The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed remains recovered from a sunken sailboat on Friday are those of a Fort Myers Beach man who was reported missing after Hurricane Ian.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday that the remains have been identified as James “Denny” Hurst, 72, who was last known to be aboard the sailboat “Good Girl” as the category 4 storm destroyed much of Fort Myers Beach in late September.

The boat was recovered Friday afternoon in the Matanzas Pass area, Sheriff Carmine Marceno said in a social media post.

Hurst had told his family he planned to ride out the storm on the boat, officials said.

Earlier Friday, the sheriff announced that a crew clearing debris in the mangroves found the remains of 82-year-old Ilonka Knes. She had been reported missing in early October.

Officials identified Knes through dental records, the sheriff said. The body of her husband, 81-year-old Robert Knes, was found shortly after the storm struck.

Hurst and Knes were the two remaining people who had been reported as missing in Lee County after the hurricane, Marceno said. He added that he hopes their families will now have some closure.

Before the discovery, the Florida Medical Examiners Commission on Tuesday reported 145 confirmed deaths in the state from Hurricane Ian. This would add to that total.

There were also five people killed in North Carolina, one in Virginia and three in Cuba, authorities have said.