Alabama's tornado dead range in age from 6 to 89

Damage in Lee County, Alabama | Photo: MGN Online

The following article was authored by The Associated Press.

Posted: Mar 5, 2019 1:24 PM

BEAUREGARD, Ala. (AP) — The youngest victim was 6, the oldest 89. One extended family lost seven members.

The 23 people killed in the nation's deadliest tornado in nearly six years came into focus Tuesday when the coroner finished identifying them and released their names.

They included 6-year-old Armando Hernandez Jr., known as "AJ," torn from his father's arms two days after singing in his first-grade class musical; 10-year-old Taylor Thornton, who loved horses and was visiting a friend's home when the twister struck; and David Wayne Dean, 53, nicknamed "Roaddog" because of his love for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

"Just keep those families in your prayers," Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said, two days after the disaster.

The search for victims, pets and belongings in and around the devastated rural community of Beauregard continued amid the din of beeping heavy machinery and whining chainsaws. But Sheriff Jay Jones said the list of the missing had shrunk from dozens to just seven or eight.

"We've got piles of rubble that we are searching just to make sure," said Opelika Fire Chief Byron Prather Jr. "We don't think we'll find nobody there, but we don't want to leave any stone unturned."

Four children were killed, ages 6, 8, 9 and 10. Prather said the mother of 6-year-old AJ rushed to the scene Sunday in distress.

"She just said her child was swept from the father's arms," Prather said. "A mother's love for her child. How do you tell a mom that she can't go look for her child? She went and tried to find her child, like everybody else."

Dean's body was found by his son in a neighbor's yard after the twister demolished his mobile home.

"He was done and gone before we got to him," said his sobbing widow, Carol Dean, who was at work at Walmart when the storm hit. "My life is gone. He was the reason I lived, the reason that I got up."

The tornado was an EF4 with winds estimated at 170 mph (274 kph) and chewed a path of destruction up to nine-tenths of a mile (1.4 kilometers) wide in Alabama for nearly 27 miles (43 kilometers), scraping up the earth in a phenomenon known as "ground rowing," the National Weather Service said.

Ninety people were injured, authorities said. Most had been released from the hospital as of Monday.

Along the two-lane country road where some of the victims died, firefighters used heavy machinery to overturn pieces of houses that were blown into a gulley. A car sat atop the remains of one house. A red-brick foundation was all that was left at another lot.

The search took its toll around Beauregard, an unincorporated area of roughly 10,000 people near the Georgia line. Church chaplain Ike Mathews walked down a road lined with broken trees and debris as he went to check on members of his congregation and emergency workers.

"Yesterday I talked to some team members who had found bodies. They're hurting. The community is torn up. They started crying talking about it," said Mathews, an associate pastor at Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church.

Many of the people living in the area are senior citizens who moved to the country after retiring from textile mills or an old magnetic-tape manufacturing plant that closed years ago, Mathews said.

"They start with a mobile home and hope they can build a house someday. They invest in their homes, and they have a sense of legacy. It's something to leave their kids and grandkids," he said.

It was the deadliest tornado to hit the U.S. since May 2013, when an EF5 twister killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma.

Government teams surveying storm damage confirmed Tuesday that at least 18 tornadoes struck on Sunday in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Cindy Sanford said one of her neighbors in Beauregard died in the storm, and another neighbor remained missing Tuesday.

"I pray to God that they find her," Sanford said as picked through remains of her home, which tumbled in the wind and is now scattered across neighbors' land.

Sanford said she left home with her 5-year-old grandson about five minutes before the storm struck after she got a feeling it was unsafe.

"It was God," she said. "And then I heard the siren."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
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Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
Columbus
Clear
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Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 70°
Oxford
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Starkville
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Hi: 90° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 72°
Tropical Depression Claudette has now moved into Alabama and Georgia, leaving with some cloud cover but dry conditions. Most of us will stay dry through this Father's Day but some spotty showers will likely through the late afternoon.
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