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Bonnie-spawned tornado kills 3 in N. Carolina

Repairs were being made Friday in some North Carolina communities after areas were hit by remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie.
Repairs were being made Friday in some North Carolina communities after areas were hit by remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie.WNCN
/ Source: The Associated Press

Tornadoes spun from a tropical system touched down in eastern North Carolina on Friday, killing three people in a trailer park and damaging buildings and knocking out power.

Besides the fatalities, more than two dozen people in the area were injured, officials said.

The victims, including an 18-month-old girl, were killed at a mobile home park in Rocky Point, north of Wilmington, said Andie Thomas, director of the emergency department at Pender Memorial Hospital.

At least 15 people were hurt in the trailer park, including the girl’s parents, Thomas said.

Victim Julio Pacheco, 28, a native of Mexico, had lived in the United States about eight years and worked with a tree removal service, said his brother, Flavio Gonzalez.

Also killed was David Jordan, 26, who lived with his girlfriend, Aleisha Leonard, and their three children, the Star-News of Wilmington reported.

Leonard’s brother, Shane Leonard of Wilmington, said Jordan had two children in his arms when their mobile home collapsed. Rescuers saved the children, but could not help Jordan, he said.

Two of the children suffered minor injuries and the third was in intensive care but expected to recover, a family friend said.

Ingar Sidbury, 27, said he and his wife and cousin, along with three young children, piled into the bathroom for shelter just before the tornado “sucked the roof right off” of his house in Pender County.

Sidbury said he was awakened when the power went off. “Then I heard a whistling noise like a train coming,” he said.

A shelter was set up at a school for about 100 residents of destroyed houses and trailers. Officials said 25 homes had major damage, and Gov. Mike Easley toured the damaged area.

Sheriff Carson Smith said he expected some weather effects from Hurricane Charley now that the remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie had passed.

“Bonnie came right over the top of us,” Smith said. “Hopefully we’ll have most of our emergency operations over by the time (Charley) gets here.”

Tornadoes were also reported in other communities Friday, with injuries and building damage. At least five homes in Harnett County were destroyed Thursday by severe weather when the remnants of Tropical Storm Bonnie blew across the state.