Hurricane Katrina

Bryan Hickman, 44, Gulfport

Suzanne Summerville, Bryan Hickman's former fiancee, says she believes she has a voice-mail message of her friend's last words; he died Aug. 29 in Gulfport.

"It wasn't until after the storm that I got his message, but it had come about 9 a.m. on the 29th," she said. "He was (at a beachfront location), and he said the water was up to the second floor.

"We broke off the engagement, but we stayed good friends."

Hickman, she said, "Was a California boy through and through," and she believes that his lack of familiarity with the weather here, his inability to realize how bad the storm would be, cost him his life.

"He was extremely athletic and he loved sports. He and his son Joshua" --- now 21 and a law student in Tallahassee, Fla. --- "would play basketball outside every evening when Joshua was little. And Bryan taught him to play golf --- taught him so well, we thought he might get a golf scholarship to college.

"He was his father's pride and joy," Summerville said, "and Bryan was on the Coast just taking some jobs so he could get together enough money to move on to Florida to be near his son."

She said she had Hickman's remains sent on to his son in Florida.