Family asks for help after former Madison woman dies during Irma - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Family asks for help after former Madison woman dies during Irma evacuation

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A former Madison woman died Friday as she tried evacuating with her family from Hurricane Irma. 

DaFondeau "Bunny" Eaton moved to Georgia to be close to her son and two grandchildren. But as they were driving back up to Wisconsin during the evacuation, she had a heart attack and died in her grandchild's arms. 

It was a stressful evacuation for thousands of people in Irma's path. Thousands of vehicles lined highways for miles in Florida and Georgia as people tried to get out. 

"Everywhere you look, you just see other people packed in the cars and SUVs and vans," said Lee Jackson. 

Last Friday, Jackson was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic as he tried driving his family to safety from Georgia. His mother, DaFondeau "Bunny" Eaton, along with his wife and two twin boys were in the car and had just entered Joplin, Tennessee around midnight when tragedy hit. 

"I'm looking at her in the car and knowing like, something's really, really wrong," he explained. 

Jackson's mother was having a heart attack right in front of her grandchildren. 

"She slumped over on one of her grandchildren's lap," Jackson added. 

He took the next exit off the highway and tried giving his mother CPR before first responders could arrive. But it was too late. Bunny passed away. 

"You close your eyes and you just keep replaying this video that you don't want to see," Jackson said. 

Bunny's son, Walter Cowan, said his mother wanted to stay but they told her to evacuate. Now, Cowan feels a since of guilt. 

"It's rough. To feel that you may have talked her into her own demise, so to speak," Cowan said. 

Jacquelyn Hunt was Bunny's neighbor when she lived in Madison. They were friends for more than 20 years. 

"We were partners in crime. We did a lot of things together, but mainly she was my big sister," Hunt said. 

Now, all that's left are the memories of her caring heart. 

"If there was something that people needed, she knew how to point them in the right direction," she said as she spoke of Bunny's volunteer work with the Urban League of Greater Madison. 

Her family is now trying to get Bunny's body back up to Madison to be buried. But it's an expensive process. They've created a fundraising page and are asking the community for help.

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