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Oklahoma Thunderstorm Kills Boy

September 22, 1998

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A vicious thunderstorm ripped through a mobile home park, killing a 2-year-old boy and injuring at least a dozen other people.

The storm struck Monday night with 80 mph wind and lashing rain.

``It was like being in a wind tunnel with rain,″ said Tim Maxwell, manager of a convenience store in the area.

The damaged area included 16 square miles of Oklahoma County, Sheriff John Whetsel said. ``We are checking every square mile, making contact with every resident to make sure of their safety,″ he said today.

At least two homes were destroyed and about a dozen others were damaged, authorities said. An estimated 23,000 utility customers lost electrical service.

The body of Steffen Howe, who was a month short of his third birthday, was found in the wreckage of his home at the park some 20 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. His 15-month-old sister, Destiny, was found about 20 yards from their home and remained hospitalized in fair condition today.

Neighbors had found their mother, Nikki Howe, wandering through the wreckage after the storm and asking about her children, said Jay Mahan, who found Steffen’s body.

``That was the hardest thing that I ever had to do,″ Mahan said. ``Because she kept asking about her little boy. We knew he was dead.″

Storms also swept through the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds earlier Monday, flooding the State Fair Arena where people had gathered to watch the ``Disney on Ice″ show.

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