Fort Lauderdale Victims Include World Traveler, Beloved Parishioner
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CBSNews) — Many of the five people killed in the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting were on vacation, headed for cruises that promised sun, sand and fun.
Three were collecting their luggage when a gunman opened fire in the baggage claim area of Terminal 2 at the airport – a hub for cruisers headed to Port Everglades.
An official list of victims had not been released by Saturday afternoon. But family and friends of two of the victims, Michael Oehme of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Terry Andres of Virginia Beach confirmed the identities and shared their stories.
A third victim, Olga Woltering, was from Marietta, Georgia. Members of Woltering’s church in suburban Atlanta circulated news of her death. She’d been an active part of the Catholic Church of the Transfiguration in Cobb County since 1978.
Woltering was at the airport with her husband. According to Facebook posts by church members, she and her husband were in Fort Lauderdale to go on a cruise, CBS affiliate WGCL reports.
“Olga was one of the most joyful, loving, caring and committed people I have ever met,” a church statement said.
“This is a horrible tragedy for everyone here at Transfiguration, especially because Olga was so loved.”
Funeral arrangements are not yet scheduled, said Cat Doyle, a church spokeswoman. Parishioners said she was in her 80s, but no exact age was given.
Friends said she was originally from England. Ralph Woltering had served in the U.S. Air Force, parishioner Alvin Connolly said.
“From what I understand, their sons are in Florida with her husband right now,” Connolly said. “He’s 90 or more himself, so it’s kind of a fragile situation for him as well.”
The couple lived in a retirement community and were socially active.
“She and her husband were kind of the life of the party,” Connolly said. “They’d go to a dance, and they’d be the last ones on the floor.
“You look at them and say, ‘Man, I hope I can do everything they do when I’m that age,’” Connolly said.
Woltering was active in the ladies auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic charity affiliated with her church, said Roger Heil, the grand knight of the local Knights of Columbus group. Her husband was involved in the Knights of Columbus, he said.
Heil informed other members of the group that Woltering had died. He said he learned of her death from a past grand knight of the local group.
Terry Andres, 62, was a 12-year volunteer with the Virginia Beach Fire Department, his colleagues said.
“He was well-liked and respected for both his dedication to being a volunteer as well as his professional approach to his job as a support tech,” the Fire Department said in a statement. “We mourn his passing as we do all the victims of the senseless attack in Fort Lauderdale.”
Michael Oehme was a frequent traveler who loved to cruise with his wife, and the couple was about to head out to sea again, his sister told The Associated Press on Saturday (Jan. 7).
“They were supposed to leave today,” Elizabeth Oehme-Miller, 52, said by phone from Council Bluffs, also the couple’s hometown. “They were happy to be going on another trip.”
Oehme, 57, was a land surveyor and owned his own business, Boundaryline Surveys, his sister said.
His wife, Kari Oehme, is hospitalized with injuries from a gunshot wound to the shoulder and is expected to recover, with a family member flying to Fort Lauderdale to help her return home, her sister-in-law said. Kari Oehme is a clerical worker at a local office, Oehme-Miller said.
She said she learned that the couple was at the airport during the shooting through a text message from her daughter.
“I still can’t believe it’s true,” Oehme-Miller said. “It hasn’t hit yet. I’m kind of in shock right now.”
The couple was supposed to be cruising to the Caribbean a day after their arrival at the Fort Lauderdale airport, a hub for vacationers headed to ships at Port Everglades.