Tornado kills one, injures two


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ill. — A woman is dead and two of her neighbors injured after a tornado touched down just after 1:30 p.m. Friday in a rural area outside Opdyke, Illinois, in Jefferson County.

Neighbors, friends and family spent all afternoon picking up the pieces of 60-year-old Pat Brown's home.

There's not much left and family members said they can't believe their loving grandmother is gone.

The Jefferson County sheriff said the 60-year-old woman was home alone when the tornado picked up her mobile home and threw it across the road, slamming it down on top of a greenhouse.

It's a painful sight for family and friends, who have tried to save what little the tornado left behind.

"It's just unreal, it's hard to imagine and then when you see it actually happening, it's a lot to take in," family friend Jacob Boone said.

Jefferson County Sheriff Roger Mulch said witnesses saw the tornado touch down and take out the double wide, which took the grandmother's life all within seconds.

"It makes no difference how well you plan. It makes no difference how fast you respond, how quickly you render aid. Sometimes, that's just not enough," Mulch said.

Brown's house sat near the town of Opdyke. The tornado damaged neighbors' homes as well and even injured two neighbors, who were treated and released.

"Even though how tragic this was, we are very fortunate that it hit this small rural area," Mulch said.

But that provides little relief for a family who's grief probably hasn't even sunk in.

Right now the only comfort comes in the form of helping hands.

"There's been a lot of people doing a lot of great things helping out, picking up, just coming together for them," Jacob Boone said.

As for Pat's husband, Jack Brown, he's a truck driver and was in St. Louis, Missouri, at the time. The sheriff had to call him and tell him his wife had died.

Brown parked the truck in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, and was escorted back to the scene.

In Jackson County, emergency management officials say a tornado also touched down there in a rural part of the county. The tornado damaged barns and a carport but luckily, no one was injured.