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82-year-old Hurricane Ian victim found dead in Fort Myers Beach more than 3 months after storm

A contract debris removal company found the remains of Ilonka Knes on Tuesday "deep within the mangroves," the Lee County Sheriff said.
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The body of an 82-year-old Florida woman who went missing in September during Hurricane Ian was recovered Tuesday, the Lee County Sheriff's Office said.

A contract debris removal company cleaning an area near Fort Myers Beach found the remains of Ilonka Knes "deep within the mangroves," Sheriff Carmine Marceno said at a news conference Thursday.

Ilonka Knes
Ilonka Knes.Lee County Sheriff's Office

"These areas are impassable by boat and they’re not visible by the air," he said.

Knes lived in Fort Myers Beach with her husband, who had previously been found dead. The sheriff said the area was "completely destroyed" when the Category 4 storm slammed into Florida.

"This was a really heavily affected area," he said.

Family members had requested a welfare check on Knes on Oct. 7, about a week after the hurricane, but deputies could not find her. She was declared missing on Oct. 15 after several failed attempts to locate her, Marceno said.

Her body was ultimately recovered .16 miles from her home, according to the sheriff. Authorities identified her through dental records. A cause of death was determined to be accidental drowning.

Marceno said he hopes the recovery brings a sense of relief to the family.

Knes' death brings the total number of confirmed casualties in the county to 74, the sheriff said. One man, James "Denny" Hurst, remains missing. Statewide, NBC News identified more than 140 deaths related to the hurricane.