Remains of Woman Missing Since Hurricane Ian Found 'Deep Within the Mangroves' of Fort Myers Beach

In this aerial view, destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Ian is shown on October 02, 2022 in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.
In this aerial view, destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Ian is shown on October 02, 2022 in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.

Win McNamee/Getty

The remains of a missing woman have been found nearly four months after she was reported missing after Hurricane Ian, Florida officials announced Thursday.

A tree removal company discovered the body of Ilonka Knes, 82, while working in the area off of Tropical Shores Way in Fort Myers Beach on Tuesday, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said at a press conference.

The remains were found "deep within the mangroves," which Marceno said "are impassable by boat" and "not visible by the air."

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The tree workers "immediately" reported their discovery to the Lee County Sheriff's office, Marceno added. Officials identified Ilonka via dental records later that evening.

The Lee County coroner has determined that Knes died from an accidental drowning, according to the sheriff.

"I hope this discovery can bring the family some closure," Marceno said at Thursday's press conference.

Ilonka Knes
Ilonka Knes

Lee County Sheriff's Office

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Lee County officials received a request to conduct a well-being check on Ilonka on Oct. 7, but failed to locate her on several occasions. She was officially listed as a missing person on Oct. 15.

Ilonka was found Tuesday about 1.6 miles from where she lived on Fort Myers Beach, where homes were "completely destroyed" by the storm, Marceno said.

Her husband Robert Knes, 81, was found dead shortly after the storm slammed into the state, according to the Associated Press. Marceno said Robert was found "in close proximity" to his wife.

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Ilonka was one of two individuals still listed as missing following Hurricane Ian. James Hurst, 72, still remains missing, the AP reported.

Hurst informed family that he planned to weather the storm onboard his sailboat in Fort Myers Beach, per the outlet. He has not been heard from since.

In total, 74 people from Lee County have died as a result of Hurricane Ian, Marceno said Thursday.

More than 140 people in Florida died due to the storm, according to the AP and NBC News.