The lives lost in the blizzard of 2016

2 years ago
snow blizzard

The blizzard that hit the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic over the weekend took a deadly toll on families across the region, as people lost their lives in weather-related accidents.

From New York to Washington to Virginia, the snowstorm is blamed directly or indirectly for at least 38 deaths.

One man was killed when the wind blew down a tree onto his vehicle. Others suffered fatal heart attacks while shoveling snow. A woman and child died from carbon monoxide poisoning as they tried to stay warm in their car.

According to various agencies, there were at least 10 deaths in New York, six in North Carolina, six in Virginia, four in South Carolina, three in Pennsylvania, three in New Jersey and one each in Kentucky, Maryland, Georgia, Ohio, Delaware and Washington.

Official tallies of deaths during the storm were higher, but CNN has not been able to confirm individual reports, and it was unclear if all the reported fatalities were weather-related.

These were some of the victims of the massive snowstorm:

DeCarlo Allen (Georgia)

Allen was a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier who was in his Postal Service truck when the wind knocked a tree over onto the vehicle. A local fire official called it a freak accident. The winter storm brushed Georgia lightly compared to farther north, but gusts from the storm knocked down the tree as Allen was driving on a private road on a golf course property in Lithonia, just east of Atlanta. Fire Capt. Eric Jackson said the incident happened Saturday, and that the initial impact of the tree killed Allen, who was 36 years old.

Allen lived in Covington, Georgia, and attended Morris Brown College from 1999 to 2002, according to his Facebook page.

His wife, Kita Allen, created a GoFundMe page dedicated to raising money to help educate their children. She posted a picture of her husband on a boat with the caption, “You can now see that sun daily! Love you”

Vernon J. Alston (Delaware)

Alston, 44, was a U.S. Capitol Police officer. He was at his home in Delaware during the blizzard, and suffered a heart attack while shoveling snow.

“Officer Alston was someone who loved his job, and his loss leaves a huge void in the hearts of all of the men and women,” at the U.S. Capitol Police, said Chief of Police Kim Dine.

Alston joined the Capitol Police in 1996, most recently working with the House Division.

House Speaker Paul Ryan was among the lawmakers who expressed their grief at the loss.

“During his 20 years in the force, Officer Alston set an example of devotion and professionalism that we should all strive to follow,” Ryan said in a statement.

The senior senator from Delaware, Tom Carper, tweeted: “My prayers are with the loved ones of Officer Vernon J. Alston Jr., a Delawarean who dedicated his life to protecting and serving others.”

Briahna Gerloff (Pennsylvania)

Gerloff, 18, was pregnant with a baby girl. She died from a suspected heart attack after shoveling snow, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to a GoFundMe page set up by her family, Gerloff was eight months pregnant with a child she had named Kayliana.

“God took not one, but two beautiful angels,” the site says.

According to the Inquirer, Gerloff had a rare heart condition, but her friends said she never let it slow her down.

Sashalynn Rosa and her son, Messiah (New Jersey)

While Felix Bonilla Jr. dug his car out of the snow, his girlfriend and two children were inside, keeping warm. Unbeknownst to them, odorless but deadly carbon monoxide gas seeped into the vehicle because the exhaust pipe was clogged by snow.

Police arrived at the scene, where three unresponsive people were reported. Officers found people performing CPR on them.

Sashalynn Rosa, 23, her 1-year-old son Messiah and 3-year-old daughter Saniyah were taken to the hospital. Sashalynn and Messiah died at the hospital, and Saniyah was in critical condition, the Passaic Police Department said.

“It’s hard to lose them like that,” grandfather Felix Bonilla Sr. told CNN affiliate WABC.

A relative posted a tribute on Facebook: “Just knowing that my cousin and her son aren’t in this world anymore just breaks my heart. All prayers for her daughter that’s still fighting in the hospital… and having the lord have two more beautiful angels.”

Andrew Van Evera (South Carolina)

Andrew Van Evera was training for a triathlon, and was jogging in Greenville County, South Carolina, when he was struck by a vehicle.

“It appears that Mr. Van Evera was jogging with a friend when he was struck by a vehicle that lost control, possibly due to the weather conditions,” the Greenville County coroner said in a statement.

Van Evera’s triathlon coach, Katie Malone, told CNN affiliate WYFF that Van Evera was training for an upcoming half-marathon. Van Evera wanted to get his workout done despite the weather, Malone said.

“Of course, nobody thinks something like this is going to happen,” Malone told WYFF. “He was a father to three children, and he didn’t come back from his run that day.”


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