Former Hammond resident Kirk Carter dies from Maui wildfires after week in hospital

Liz Nagy Image
Thursday, August 24, 2023
Former Hammond resident dies in Maui wildfires
Kirk Carter, who lived in Hammond, is one of 115 people who died in the Lahaina, Maui wildfires. He was found burned in a Safeway parking lot.

HAMMOND, Ind. (WLS) -- Kirk Carter, who lived in Hammond in the 1990s, felt a deep pull to the Hawaiian island of Maui.

"None of us wanted him to go. We wanted him to stay here with us. We had to let him do his thing," said friend Gerri Spencer.

In Maui, Carter pursued his passion for music and worked on a tourism submarine. Two weeks ago his island paradise erupted in uncontrolled flames.

When word and video of the wildfires spread, Carter's family and friends in Hammond panicked.

"Every app, phone calls, there was nothing," Spencer said. "That's when anxiety started to kick in."

Days later, Carter's friends heard he had been found in a Safeway parking lot, with burns over more than 75% of his body. He died in the hospital last week.

"He wanted to live and die on that rock, and he did," Spencer said. "He loved it there."

His closest friend never got to say goodbye.

"It definitely sucks not being able to say, 'Thank you for everything you've done in my life," said Zachary Spencer said.

Up to 1,100 people are still missing after the fire, the FBI says.