Rescue workers use a wrecker to lift the fallen tree from the mobile home in order to recover the boy. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Rescue workers use a wrecker to lift the fallen tree from the mobile home in order to recover the boy. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
A teen boy was killed overnight when a storm caused a tree to fall on his family’s mobile home.
Kosciusko County Coroner Mike Wilson identified the victim as Daniel Holbrook, 14.
According to a press release from the Winona Lake Police Department, police and fire departments were dispatched to 1202 Wooster Road, lot 76, in Fairlane Mobile Home Park, where a tree had fallen on a trailer due to high winds.
First responders saw a large tree that had broken off and fallen on the front portion of the trailer. Two residents were found in the center part of the trailer uninjured.
Two other young occupants had been in a bedroom in the front of the trailer. A search began and one of the subjects was found with minor injuries. After police searched through debris in the bedroom, they found the second person fatally injured by the fallen tree, the press report stated.
Chrissy Hollan, who lives two doors down, said it was her son who escaped the tree falling on the trailer’s bedroom.
“I was sitting on the couch and all of a sudden it started lightning. The wind picked up and the rain picked up. It sounded like a twister would sound, but it died down. Then it picked up again. I saw the light pole shake and that’s when the tree fell,” Hollan said at about 7 a.m. today.
She was in the back bedroom when her son came pounding on her door. He had been in the neighbor’s home.
“He said a tree fell on Danny’s trailer. By the time I came to look, the fire trucks were out here. I saw the tree on the trailer,” she reported. “It happened within 10 minutes.”
Hollan said the tree landed “right on him. He was my son’s best friend. I don’t know how he got out alive.”
She said her son had some scrapes.
She said it was just Danny, his grandmother and uncle living in the trailer. They were going to stay at a neighbor’s trailer, but Hollan said she didn’t know what they would do.
“It happened just like that. It was very fast,” she said.
Maggie Arvizu, lot 61, said she’s been after the park’s management to cut the trees down.
“I moved up here last year and as soon as I saw how close the trees were, I asked them two or three times to cut them down. I asked again this year. It’s pretty bad a boy had to get hurt to make him do something,” she said. “... They do need to take these trees down.”
April Marban, Arvizu’s daughter who also lives in the mobile home park, said, “It got really strong, the wind. It was raining pretty hard. We then heard a large thump.”
Kosciusko County Emergency Management Director Ed Rock said he was doing some damage assessment this morning and was planning to go out and do more after the 9 a.m. county commissioners meeting. He has a list of reported damage from Central Dispatch to check on.
“Now that it is daylight we can start seeing what we’ve got,” Rock said.
In Winona Lake and at Grace College there were reports of downed trees and limbs.
The town of Mentone was without power for part of the storm, Rock said. It ripped off the side of a building, and snapped the arms off of the railroad crossing at Ind. 19.
His report had no indications of damage in the Syracuse area, but Milford had a couple of reports. Pierceton has one, but most of the reports are from the southern part of the county, he said.
As far as he was aware this morning, Rock said the only reported injuries or deaths was the one in Winona Lake.
Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Aaron Rovenstine said officers were called in last night and worked through the night. They responded to 140 calls since the storm started around 12:30 a.m. The calls ranged from trees in the road and on wires to trees on roofs.
“State Road 25 was extremely bad. It was blocked for a while,” he said. A tree across the road closed Ind. 25 south of Warsaw.
“Mentone was the worst of it with a straight line from Mentone to south of Warsaw,” Rovenstine reported. The KCSD also received sporadic calls from Syracuse.
Thousands of people lost power from the storms pushing through Kosciusko County.
According to the first press release from Kosciusko REMC at about 3 a.m. today, over 5,500 KREMC members lost power throughout the service territory. Major damage has been caused by fallen trees including downed poles and lines. All KREMC crews were called in and were working through the night to restore power.
By 8 a.m. today, KREMC reported 3,000 outages, with additional crews from surrounding co-ops requested to help.
KREMC reminds everyone to stay away from downed lines and to contact the co-op immediately to report issues. To report an outage or downed power lines call 574-267-6331 or 800-790-7362.
NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer said at peak there were 118,000 customers without power. The company has over 23 counties in its electric service area from the border of Illinois to the Ohio border.
Around 4:30 a.m. today the co-op had 85,000 customers without power, but that was down to 75,000 in 2,500 locations as of 10 a.m.
With the widespread damage, Meyer said NIPSCO has more than 113 reported broken poles and over 500 reports of downed power lines.
“So a lot of work ahead for us,” he said. “We’re continuing assessing damage and we continue to get calls.”
An outage map at www.nipsco.com/outagecenter shows the number of communities with power outages and number of customers affected. At around 10 a.m., the map showed Warsaw had 42 outages with over 1,400 customers affected; Winona Lake had 25 outages, with 225 affected; Claypool, 28 outages and 36 customers affected; Silver Lake, 35 outages, 133 customers affected; and Mentone, 15 outages, 270 customers affected.
National Weather Service meteorologist Courtney Obergfell, North Webster, said they were still investigating this morning but the damage from the storm is being attributed to straight line winds. The windspeed was measured at 60 to 70 mph, but in some cases it could have reached higher speeds.
She said the damage in the county probably occurred between 1:15 and 1:20 a.m. when the winds were at their highest.
“It was a pretty fast-moving storm within a 15 to 20-minute time frame,” Obergfell said.
Two storm lines formed over Iowa and moved east, she said. The first one died out in South Bend, but the second storm line was the one that caused the damage in Kosciusko County.
“We’ve not heard of any reports of tornados last night, but we are in constant contact with emergency management services throughout the area. It looks like it was straight line winds,” she said.
Obergfell said the NWS will post updates all day long on its local website at weather.gov/IWX
Both Warsaw Community and Tippecanoe Valley schools closed summer school today because of the storm damage.
According to an email from Tippecanoe Valley Superintendent Brett Boggs, “It appears we escaped without any significant damage. ... We have a few limbs down at Mentone Elementary School, but nothing serious. Mentone Elementary School and the Burket Educational Center remain without power. Akron Elementary, TVMS, and TVHS all have power. Considering some of the damage that occurred in the northern part of the district, we are quite fortunate.”
He said TVSC canceled summer school classes for today. Summer school will be held Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., rather than 8 a.m. to noon, to make up the lost day. Akron and Mentone elementaries will be serving breakfast and lunch today as part of the Summer Meals Program. Lunch will not be served today at TVHS.
JoElla Smyth, WCS summer school coordinator, wrote in an email, “We canceled summer school due to impassable roads and no electricity in the southern parts of our county. We also had no electricity at WACC. Trees are down at the access to Edgewood and Washington.”