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Tornado Hits Southwest Coast, Kills One

March 17, 1985

VENICE, Fla. (AP) _ A tornado hit this coastal city Sunday morning, killing at least one person, injuring about 25 others and damaging 40 homes and businesses, authorities said.

One of the 25 was critically injured in a car accident, said Lt. Bill Stookey of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department.

Dozens of people in a half-mile area around a shopping plaza where the twister touched down at about 4:30 a.m. were evacuated in school buses and emergency vehicles to a Red Cross shelter, he said.

The twister downed trees and power lines and damaged about 40 homes and businesses, authorities said.

Authorities were conducting house-to-house and helicopter searches in the area south of Venice, in southwest Florida, for more possible victims, said Terry Garrett, a county sheriff’s deputy.

Hardest hit was the Jacaranda Shopping Plaza, where the roof caved in, said Stookey. He said damage estimates were ″in the millions.″

Bob Anderson, assistant director of the Sarasota County Disaster Preparedness, said the twister was spotted in two areas - the Venice airport and an intercoastal waterway - before touching down at the shopping center.

″With the damage that occurred it was a tornado,″ said Chuck Eggleton, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Tampa.

Eggleton said the tornado also was reported to have touched down in Fort Ogden, about 30 miles east of Venice.

Pronounced dead was Jaqub Sieniawski, 66, said Stookey.

″His house was destroyed. The roof caved in,″ Stookey said.

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