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Storms Cause Five Deaths, Widespread Damage

June 27, 1988

Undated (AP) _ Scattered thunderstorms boomed from the West to the Southeast today after unleashing tornadoes, winds and lightning that killed five people, burned a hole in a jetliner and knocked over a race track tote board.

″We’ve got trees down, fences down - you name it; we’ve got a mess,″ Police Sgt. Joe Deich said in Greensboro, N.C., following Sunday’s storms.

In Utah, a search was to resume today for a 41-year-old man who was swept away during a sudden storm Sunday at Utah Lake in which a 10-year-old boy drowned.

Scattered thunderstorms fell today from northeast Florida to North Carolina. Scattered showers and thunderstorms lingered in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Sunday’s fatalities included an 8-year-old Greensboro boy who was struck by two trees as he rode his bicycle through a storm, police said.

To the southwest, a 38-year-old man was fatally struck by lightning while boating on Lake Norman, said Mecklenburg County police Capt. J.I. Pendergraph.

In North Branford, Conn., lightning killed a 17-year-old boy and injured his 19-year-old girlfriend as they walked hand-in-hand through a hayfield, said police dispatcher Phyllis Dunphy. She was in fair condition today with first-degree burns and possible internal injuries, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Near Boulder, Colo., one climber was killed and another injured when they were hit by lightning while trying to descend a 600-foot wall in Eldorado State Park on Saturday afternoon.

″We knew we needed to get on down, and we were doing just that,″ Randall Jett, 21, of Salem, Ill., said Sunday at Boulder Community Hospital, where he was recovering from burns on several parts of his body.

In Shelby County, Ala., a 19-year-old man was critically injured when he was struck by lightning, apparently while swimming in the Coosa River, said a spokeswoman for University Hospital in Birmingham.

Lighting hit a Piedmont Airlines 737 as it approached Charlotte, N.C., on Sunday night, burning a small hole in the left wing flap and causing minor turbulence, said airline spokesman Mike Clark.

″The passengers were never in any peril,″ Clark said. The flap was repaired, and the jet departed for Savannah, Ga., 75 minutes later.

A man was in fair condition today at a Fort Smith, Ark., hospital after he was injured Sunday by debris sent flying when high winds demolished a tote board, used to flash odds on different horses to bettors, at Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Okla.

The winds knocked part of a wall and roof into the grandstands and destroyed shortly before the start of the 11th race, forcing cancellation of the 11th and 12th races, said Kerry Eason, the track’s publicity director.

Tornadoes were reported Sunday in Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, and gusts of 90 mph were clocked in Tall Timbers, Md. Trees and power lines were downed in Oklahoma and from Alabama to Virginia, the National Weather Service said.

In Alabama, an estimated 12,000 people from Birmingham in the north-central part of the state to Dothan in the southeast lost power, Alabama Power Co. officials said. Service was restored by today.

The wind blew down a radio tower in Aiken, Ga., destroyed two mobile homes in Andalusia, Ala.; damaged 19 mobile homes in Rockingham County, N.C.; toppled small buildings in Honea Path, S.C.; and blew the roof off an apartment complex in Stillwater, Okla.

Wind gusting to 75 mph damaged at least 25 homes in Murfreesboro, Tenn., said police officer Jeff Stiles.

″It blew the sides off buildings, blew some roofs off and blew the glass out of several store fronts,″ said Stiles.

In Dothan, two sections of roof at the Dothan-Houston County Airport were blown off. A section of roof that landed in the airport parking lot, along with swirling rocks and gravel, damaged an estimated 25 cars, said Houston County emergency management coordinator Bobby Clemmons.

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