Polk County family wants more awareness about deadly bacteria

By Saundra Weathers, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 07, 2015, 9:53 PM EDT

The family of a Polk County man is asking for more awareness about the bacteria that killed their loved one.

Last week, Richard Corley, also known as Pinetree, went on a fishing trip to Fort Myers. But his brother Brian says the same waters they loved to fish in, killed the 56-year-old.

“When he come home Sunday he was not feeling good,” Brian said. “He was sick to his stomach, throwing up. He thought he just had the flu bug.”

Brian says the day before, his brother cut his leg and then went fishing the next day.

“It’s back in the back waters where most people fish. It’s back in the brackish waters where it is still,” Corley said.

And that’s where medical experts say the vibrio bacteria lives. So far this year it’s killed 12 people.

It’s what Brian says took his brother’s life one week after that fishing trip. He says first it was flu-like symptoms, then hospitalization, then death.

“The idea is that we live in paradise. Well, everything lives in paradise too,” Priority Health’s Dr. Randy Shuck said. “The best thing to do is be aware that if the water is brackish and sits still too much, if there isn’t a lot of flow through the water then that bacteria is going to accumulate a little bit more. So make sure the water is flowing. Make sure you don’t have cuts. If you have cuts don’t get in the water. It doesn’t make us heal faster. It makes it worse.”

And for people who don’t know about these precautions, Brian says he’s hoping the state will do a better job educating them. He plans to start a campaign to get the word out.

“How many deaths does it take to try to do something better to let the public know that it’s out there?” Brian said.

Corley’s family wants signs put up at boat ramps near the no wake zone signs and the manatee protection signs. His brother says he’s going to do everything to make those changes happen.