Opdyke tornado kills one

Jefferson County coroner Eddie Joe Marks said Pat Brown, 60, died Friday from injuries she sustained when her house collapsed during the storms that raged through
southern Illinois that afternoon.

Marks said the woman lived in a double-wide mobile home on Lynchburg Road near the town of Opdyke. When her home was struck by a tornado, the residence blew apart and pieces were strewn in the 40-acre field nearby, he said.

He said Brown’s neighbor, a teenage boy whom Brown had invited to wait out the storm in her home instead of staying alone next door, received minor injuries during the collapse.

Marks said it was tragic news for the small community
east of Mount Vernon.

“We know the family,” Marks said. “We go to church with the family.”

Diana Bullock, an employee at the Opdyke post office, said she was amazed the buildings in town didn’t receive more damage from the wind.

Vicky Taylor, a rural route carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Belle Rive, a neighboring town, said she was changing a flat tire when she saw the tornado coming.

“I really thought it was over my house in Belle Rive,” she said.

Taylor said she finished changing the tire as fast as she could and then drove past the field near Brown’s residence on her way to safety.

“I thought I saw a car sitting in the field, but it was the roof of her home,” Taylor said.

Taylor said she wasn’t looking forward to delivering mail on Lynchburg Road Saturday.

“I have to go out there and deliver mail today and I’m not wanting to,” she said. “I knew her for 25 years.”

Marks said he wished people who don’t have basements or shelters would buy a football or bicycle helmet to protect their heads during storms. He said putting on a helmet and lying in a bathtub can
sometimes be enough protection
to save a life.

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