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Death toll rises back to 13 with latest fatality

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Posted at 6:24 AM, Nov 21, 2014
and last updated 2015-11-15 06:07:55-05

A 50-year-old man who had been reported missing was found early Friday in his car in Cheektowaga on Innsbruck Drive, buried in his car under snow.

The Cheektowaga Police identified the David Deneke of Depew. He was found in his 2004 Chevy Cavalier at 6:30 a.m. off the side of the road on Innsbruck Drive 200 yards east of Union Road. His car was completely covered in snow. His family had reported him missing and called police. Police are going over their phone call records. More details on this story here.

Earlier on Friday, county officials announced two elderly residents of Garden Gate Nursing Home in Cheektowaga died while being evacuated from their compromised facility Thursday. That would have made the death toll 13. But after conferring with nursing home officials, the county corrected themselves to report only one death.

The Union Road nursing home was evacuated Thursday afternoon after building inspectors discovered doors that wouldn't close, indentations in the ceiling from the snow, cracks in the walls, and twisted beams. They feared a collapse and several fire trucks and heavy rescue apparatus were called in to transport the residents to Appletree Business Park.

County officials say the elderly woman died after being transported to the business park, before she could be transported to other nursing home facilities owned by the McGuire group. The remaining residents were taken to other facilities.

State Police reported later on Friday that a 57-year-old man was found dead underneath several feet of snow at the base of his front porch steps. Troopers say Jon Barsam's neighbor became concerned when he hadn't seen Barsam in two days and called troopers Thursday to check on Barsam at his home on South Abbott Road in the Town of Boston.

Officers say they located him at the base of his front porch steps under several feet of snow. Police say it appears Barsam was in the process of removing snow. His cause of death remains under investigation. Until the medical examiner determines whether or not Basam's death is considered storm-related, the death total remains at 13.

The last person officially to die a storm-related death was a 68-year-old man in Cheektowaga. He suffered a cardiac event Friday afternoon while attempting to clear snow.

Four people died on Tuesday, three from heart attacks, two of which were shoveling snow and an 81-year-old man went into cardiac arrest and an ambulance was unable to reach him. A fourth person died when he was pinned by a car as he was trying to push it out of snow.

MORE | More on the death of a man in Genesee County

Sometime overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, a 46-year-old man died in Alden. Donald Abate of Blasdell  was found by first responders inside his car on Broadway Avenue, which had been buried underneath feet of snow. 7 Eyewitness News heard this heartbreaking story from his widow.

On Wednesday, an elderly man died after he was unable to be transported to the hospital. Officials say he had a cardiac condition and was in need of urgent assistance but the roads were impassable.

Thursday morning, Erie County officials reported an eighth person had died. A man in his 60s went into cardiac arrest while attempting to move a snowplow out of a shed. Later that afternoon, the Erie County Health Commissioner announced two more deaths, one in Niagara County and one in the Town of Boston, due to exposure.

County leaders are asking everyone to check on their neighbors, especially elderly residents. Also be sure furnace vents are clear of snow to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Cleanup efforts continue in Erie County, which remains under a State of Emergency with several communities still under a travel ban.

The National Weather Service says a year's worth of snow is expected in just a few days over the hardest hit areas.