A Fort Myers Beach man known as the “pirate of the beach” was remembered as a hero after he ran back to his flooded southeast Florida home to rescue his girlfriend and dog from Hurricane Ian.
Daymon Utterback, 54, died after helping his girlfriend and their Yorkshire mix, Peanut, get to safety. Both survived the storm.
Utterback, who worked as a mechanical engineer, was well-known for his legendary pirate outfits and his likeness to Johnny Depp’s character, Jack Sparrow, from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie series. His friend, Michael Yost, who is now grieving the loss of two friends, said Utterback would be missed.
“We have quite a few pirate guys,” Yost said. “But he was the real thing.”
Utterback often obtained his pirate attire at auction and had several key items from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, including a ring, sword and the sash Depp used in the movies, Yost said. He said Utterback recently paid $500 for a new pair of boots to complete the outfit.
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Utterback was known as “Captain Jack” because when he donned the attire, he looked just like character Jack Sparrow, Yost said, adding they’d both dress up.
Yost said if he was doing something on the beach, it was either with his girlfriend, Utterback or Mitch Pacyna, known as the “Mayor of Fort Myers Beach,” who also died during the storm.
“There was just a huge loss for that community,” said said “It’s just an empty, empty spot in that community now.”
‘I couldn’t get a hold of him’
Yost remained on the island during the storm and said when he saw where the water was from his home, several blocks away from Utterback, he grew concerned.
“I couldn’t get a hold of him,” Yost said. “That was kind of the moment I thought, ‘Oh God.'”
Yost then started to think no one below where he stood could be alive, he said. The next morning, he went looking and found his friend’s body hanging out of a window.
According to the Florida Medical Examiner’s records, Utterback attempted to exit through a window during the storm and became trapped.
After that encounter, Yost said he ran and found both Pacyna’s wife and Utterback’s girlfriend and dogs survived the hurricane.
Yost said Utterback’s girlfriend planned to bury him in his pirate attire.
Belinda Hadcock, who runs the Skeleton Crew Entertainment group at the Fort Myers Beach Pirate Festival and has spent time with Utterback in the past, said she was shocked when she learned about his death.
“Daymon was a beloved part of the pirate community,” Hadcock said.
Tomas Rodriguez is a Breaking/Live News Reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press, part of the USA TODAY Network.