BRADENTON BEACH — Mark Mixon was trying to hold back the rain that Tropical Storm Eta was dumping on his Bradenton Beach home Wednesday, shoring up his bayside place with sandbags.
As the water pooled outside under whipping winds and blackening skies, Mixon, 65, stepped inside his laundry room, which already had about 3 inches of standing water from the storm. He was electrocuted.
A fire official said it appeared the electricity came from wires from a plugged-in clothing dryer inside the two-story home at 211 Bay Drive N., a quiet, tucked-in street on the southern end of Anna Maria Island.
“The water had just gotten up just high enough that it caused that shock,” West Manatee Fire Rescue Chief Ben Rigney said Thursday.
A friend who had been helping Mixon frantically dialed 911. Fire Rescue got the call at about 5:35 p.m. Florida Power & Light was called to shut down the grid before rescue workers could safely get to Mixon.
He was pronounced dead at the scene just after 6 p.m. said Det. Sgt. Lenard Diaz of the Bradenton Beach Police.
“It’s a loss — all these neighbors know each other,” Diaz said.
While a washing machine in the home was unplugged in the ankle-deep water, the dryer was not, he said.
“I’m sure he didn’t realize it, didn’t know his dryer was hooked up or it was in water,” Diaz said. “It was sad.”
Carol Whitmore, a Manatee County commissioner and longtime island resident, said she’s known Mixon since they were teenagers.
His parents owned Mixon Insurance in Holmes Beach for decades, she said. Mixon worked there and later ran the company with his mother after his father died, Whitmore said. The family sold the company a few years ago, she said.
“He was always fixing up his house,” she said. “He enjoyed doing hands-on trade with construction and such. I assume that’s what he was doing with this house.”
She said Mixon was a quiet man, “a nice guy who had a good sense of humor.”
“It’s just like a family member I’m losing, actually,” she said.
Diaz said he was told that Mixon recently purchased the two-story white house with black shutters and a picturesque view of the Cortez Bridge and was remodeling.
At the house, only a few blocks from the Gulf of Mexico beaches, someone left an offering on the doorstep Thursday. A small bouquet of fall flowers held a card that said: “We Will Miss You.” Next to it was a bottle of Bud Light Lime.
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2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
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