‘I believe my brother died a hero’: Woman says brother died trying to save others in Maui wildfires
SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF/Gray News) – A woman in South Carolina said she believes her brother was killed in the devastating wildfires that swept through the island of Maui late last week.
“From what we know, when Joe started to evacuate, there were elderly people in his community who were stranded,” said Penny Schilling.
Schilling said her brother Joe Schilling had recently moved to the downtown area near Lahaina, which was in the direct path of the wildfire which to date has taken 99 lives.
“He helped an elderly woman to escape, and she is the one who verified what happened,” Schilling explained, adding that she didn’t talk to the rescued woman directly.
Schilling’s brother reportedly tried to help four other elderly neighbors by helping them to his apartment. It was there her brother and the four others died, Schilling said she believes.
“He hasn’t been found because it is all rubble, but they know where he is. The four other seniors perished with him,” Schilling said.
The last message Schilling said her brother sent said he had the seniors in his apartment and he was trying to keep the smoke out.
Cadaver dogs have been searching the hardest-hit areas on Maui as hope for survivors being found fades.
Federal officials on the ground estimate 4,500 people have been displaced by the fires as hotels are being used to house those left with nothing.
When asked if she is headed to Maui to retrieve her brother’s remains, Schilling said it is too tragic right now to even think about.
“Those people need all the help they can get. It is still too raw. It’s still too real. They need help,” said Schilling.
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