2 Coloradans killed in Kansas tornados
Vail, CO Colorado
KANSAS CITY, Mo.” Two Coloradans were found dead in their car Saturday morning after a powerful tornado in Kansas blew their car off the road into a field the night before.
Also, authorities in Osage County were investigating whether a camper was killed by lightning as the storm system passed through their area.
Gary S. Whitlow, 33, and Kimberly S. Whitlow, 29, both of Rocky Ford, Colo., were pronounced dead at the scene after authorities found their car in a wheat field 150 yards north of Highway 54, about 13 miles east of Pratt.
The Pratt County Sheriff’s Office said the car, barely visible from the road, was destroyed by a tornado that also swept a semi truck off the highway and knocked down power poles and lines across the road.
Early in the investigation, officers feared there might have been children in the vehicle, setting a search by dozens of volunteers and emergency responders on the ground and in the air. The search was called off after 90 minutes once officers determined no one else was in the car.
A Kansas Highway Patrol aircraft also flew along the path of the tornado to make sure there were no other victims.
The Osage County Sheriff’s Department said a visitor to Pomona State Park, 30 miles south of Topeka, found the body of a 20-year-old man and three other injured campers Saturday morning. Deputies told The Topeka Capital-Journal that it is believed the man, who was camping with friends, was struck by lightning between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. as thunderstorms moved through the area, but they and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks are still investigating.
The victims’ names were not released.
The storm system spawned at least 17 tornadoes across central and western Kansas on Friday, injuring at least six other people and damaging or destroying dozens of homes.
The tornadoes began forming around 4:30 p.m. Friday and didn’t subside until after midnight, spanning across at least nine counties, according to Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department.
At least five people were injured in Stafford County, including one who was transported to a Wichita hospital for significant injuries, Watson said.
A man in Gove County also suffered minor injuries after a tornado picked up his car and blew it across Interstate 70 into a ditch, according to George Lies, emergency management director for Logan and Gove Counties.
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