Devastating stories of loss and destruction emerged out of Kentucky in the aftermath of the tornadoes that tore through the state Friday night into Saturday, including how a three-year-old boy was killed when a twister leveled his family’s home and a beloved judge was among those confirmed dead.
The toddler was among the upwards of 70 people who died in Kentucky alone as the tornadoes touched down for more than 200 miles in the state, leveling whole communities, WLWT5 reported.
Neighbor Angela Wheeler told the station that she saw the boy’s family screaming for help from their leveled home in Mayfield after she and her husband escaped their own house through a window.
Kentucky District Judge Brian Crick, a married dad of three who served McLean and Muhlenberg counties, was among those killed, Chief Justice Minton confirmed in a statement on Twitter.
“This is a shocking loss to his family, his community and the court system, and his family is in our prayers.”
The Rev. Bob Waldridge, of Yahweh Baptist Church in Mayfield, said a family of five that attends the church were inside their house when it was leveled. They all survived but have significant injuries.
“They found the wife and the four young boys in the field behind the house,” Waldridge told the outlet.
“The mother, she was pregnant also and she lost the child.”
Wheeler described how she was caring for husband, who is on dialysis, when they rushed to their bathroom just moments before the twister hit.
“Like everybody says, it was like a roar and it shifted the house where we were at and almost made us fall into the basement,” Wheeler told the outlet.
Wheeler said her home did not collapse, but twisted off its foundation, trapping the family in the basement. They escaped through a window.
Entire blocks of Mayfield were flattened, with crumbled brick, twisted metal and uprooted trees filling the streets.
The downtown area of the community of 10,000 was heavily damaged, including its historic courthouse.
Drone footage shared by Kentucky State Sen. Whitney Westerfield showed the clock tower that once topped the Graves County Courthouse completely torn off, leaving a gaping hole.
Rescuers combed through the rubble of the Mayfield candle factory — where 110 people were working overnight Friday — searching for survivors as the community scoured neighborhoods where slabs and splinters were all that remained of homes.
“I’ve seen a lot of things in my life from policing to ministry but this is the worst, absolutely the worst,” Waldridge said. “A lot of families are not as fortunate as you and I right now being here and just an immense loss of loved ones here.”
The 100-year-old church was also badly damaged, and Waldridge arrived Saturday to find the roof gone and the structure filled with water.
“The wind came through, and everything that was in the foyer ended up in the back of the church,” he told The Associated Press. “And it blew the back wall of the church out, and it took the roof off the church.”
Church members intend to have a prayer service Sunday, and several other houses of worship had reached out to offer their space, Waldridge said.
With Post wires