COCONUT GROVE, FLA. (WSVN) - - The family of a man found dead in Coconut Grove said he may have died because he chose to stay behind to protect his cat during Hurricane Irma, according to a report by the Miami Herald.
The decomposed body was found under a pile of seaweed and garbage near the Mutiny Hotel on Sept. 14, just four days after Hurricane Irma ripped through South Florida.
The body was later identified as 61-year-old Richard Jackson by his niece and daughter.
According to the report, Jackson lived aboard his houseboat in a bay east of Clarington Island and south of Dinner Key Marina.
His family believes Jackson may have stayed behind out of concern for his cat.
“The last time I communicated with him just before Irma hit, he said he wasn’t planning to stay on the boat, but he couldn’t take his cat to the shelter, and he was very concerned about the cat,” said Jackson’s niece, Katrina Styles. “He said he would call after the hurricane passed, but we never heard from him again.”
The family said they were told by Miami Police that Jackson may have drowned in Biscayne Bay and washed ashore in Coconut Grove.
“Now we know what happened to my Uncle Rich. Nobody knows what happened to the cat,” said Styles.
“I think it is sad and I’m shocked that he died that way,” said Jackson’s daughter, Amy Gagnon. “They had animal-friendly shelters, and I don’t know why he didn’t evacuate. But then he would be homeless because his boat was destroyed.”
The exact cause of Jackson’s death remains unknown.
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