ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Florida’s first-known Hurricane Matthew-related death occurred early Friday morning when wind gusts reached dangerous speeds, preventing fire officials from responding to a medical emergency.
A woman in her late 50s suffered a heart attack in St. Lucie County and later died, fire officials said.
When the medical issue was reported at 1:20 a.m., wind gusts were surpassing 68 mph and personnel were unable to respond, a St. Lucie County Fire Department official said.
The large size of fire trucks increases the danger drivers face during high winds, and it was not safe to respond, fire officials said.
The woman’s death marks the first in Florida connected to Hurricane Matthew.
The Fire Department resumed response around 6:30 a.m.
Hurricane Matthew is battering Florida’s coast, after moving over three Caribbean countries — killing at least 269 people, CNN reports.
The majority — 264 people — died in Haiti.
Florida and South Carolina officials have pleaded with citizens to evacuate.
“This storm will kill you,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott has warned, bluntly.
The storm — which is currently a Category 3, meaning winds range between 111 to 129 mph, and devastating damage will likely occur — is expected to be near or over the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina on Saturday, the hurricane center said.