A YOUNG boy tragically fell to his death from a 19-story balcony after his family fled Hurricane Ian.
The 11-year-old had been seeking safety in a Panama City Beach condo after leaving Jacksonville with his relatives when tragedy struck.
Although her hometown was spared the full force of the hurricane, it was inundated by the floodwaters.
At least 35 Floridians have died so far after the storm battered the West Coast, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
To escape the dangerous weather front, the Jacksonville family evacuated their home and made their way to the Bay County resort town.
But the 11-year-old boy fell horribly from the 19th-floor balcony of the Sterling Reef Condominiums complex around 1:20 p.m. ET on Thursday.
According to Panama City Beach communications director Debbie Ingram, rescue workers pronounced the youth dead upon arrival.
She told People: “His family stayed at the hotel there, in the condos.
“They were evacuated, I’m not sure what day, but they had been evacuated from the Jacksonville area.
“The heartbreaking thing is that you have a family that is already in dire straits and they are worried about their home and their family’s protection and then they come here for shelter and then this happens.
“So it’s just awful. All our hearts are broken.
“I hate warning someone to watch their kids because anything can happen instantly and it’s just a tragedy.”
The circumstances of the 11-year-old’s fall are not yet clear, although investigators said no third-party fault is suspected.
Police have launched an investigation into the incident, while the boy’s body was sent for medical examinations.
A Panama City Beach spokesman said, “To protect the privacy of those involved, we are unable to provide any information as this is an ongoing investigation
“Our deepest sympathy goes to the family.”
Jacksonville residents were not part of the mandatory evacuation order issued across Florida as the hurricane made its way.
However, state officials warned of the possibility of severe flooding similar to that of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma the following year.
The heartbreaking thing is that you have a family that is already in dire straits and they are worried about their home and their family’s protection and then they come here to seek refuge and then this happens.
The terrible storm made first landfall in Florida on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane, boosted by winds of 150 miles per hour.
Nearly 3 million residents were left without power while at least 23 people were killed by the deadly weather front.
The storm left a trail of destruction in the Sunshine State, knocking out power grids and submerging dozens of homes as officials begin the arduous task of identifying the dead.
Bodies were gruesomely pulled from their graves in Orlando as cemeteries across the state flooded.
Impressive photos show homes reduced to rubble and huge sailboats washed ashore after the storm wreaked havoc on its way.
A $1 million McLaren hypercar was ejected as the storm hit Cayo Costa, Florida.
Not to mention that before reaching the United States, the storm made landfall in Cuba and devastated the nation.
Hurricane Ian’s 125 mph winds left 11 million people without power across the country, causing a nearly nationwide blackout and massive flooding in many areas.
The storm made its second landfall in South Carolina on Friday with winds reaching 80 miles per hour and was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane.
Around 700,000 homes and businesses lost power, but residents luckily managed to weather the storm’s strength.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6345913/boy-plunges-death-falling-balcony-family-fleeing-hurricane-ian/ 11-year-old boy falls to his death after falling from a 19-story balcony while family fled Hurricane Ian