JACKSON, Ga. — An enormous tree limb that crashed through a Georgia family's bedroom killed a father and the young son he was holding in his arms Tuesday as a fast-moving storm system pounded the South with tornadoes, hail and spectacular lightning.
At least nine people were killed around the region, including several who died on roads made treacherous by downed trees and power lines.
Paramedics found the 4-year-old boy, Alix Bonhomme III, wrapped in the arms of his father, Alix Bonhomme Jr., in a sight so wrenching that even grizzled rescuers wept. Miraculously, a younger son in the bedroom wasn't hurt, nor was Bonhomme's fiancee, Marcie Moorer, who was sleeping in another room.
Moorer, who was still in pajamas hours later, said she still couldn't fathom what happened when the storm rumbled through Jackson, a town about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Atlanta.
"I'm still in shock. It hasn't hit me yet," said a bleary-eyed Moorer, who was planning to marry Bonhomme in July.
The storms were part of a system that cut a wide swath from the Mississippi River across the Southeast to Georgia and the Carolinas on Monday and early Tuesday. Drivers dodged debris during the morning commute in Atlanta, where one person was killed when a tree fell on his car.
Based on annual summaries compiled by The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, it appeared that the storms spawned the most reports of severe weather — more than 1,100 — in a 24-hour period since the year 2000, the Weather Channel noted.
The National Weather Service had confirmed at least eight of the nearly two-dozen possible tornadoes it was investigating in several states.
The system that also knocked out power to hundreds of thousands had moved over the Atlantic Ocean by late morning.
In Augusta, Georgia, a practice round for the Masters golf tournament was delayed by 45 minutes while workers cleaned up debris. One of Augusta National Golf Club's famed magnolia trees was destroyed by the storm.
In rural south Georgia, authorities said 45-year-old Christopher McNair was found dead under debris after a mobile home was ripped from its foundation by a tornado.
An unidentified Irwin County man was killed when a tree struck his home, according to emergency officials. And 56-year-old Ronnie Taylor, a Colquitt County road worker, was killed when he struck a large oak tree in the middle of the road as he was driving to work early Tuesday.
Memphis fire officials said an 87-year-old man found dead in his home Monday was electrocuted by a downed power line. In southern Mississippi, a 21-year-old man was killed when his car struck a tree that had fallen across a road, Copiah County coroner Ellis Stuart said.
The Georgia Department of Corrections said Robert Kincaid Jr., a state inmate being housed in the Colquitt County Prison, was killed Tuesday morning during storm cleanup when a tree fell on him.
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