Tornado Victim Helped Save Siblings
Jun. 02, 1998
SALISBURY, Pa. (AP) _ A family in a minivan failed to outrun a tornado through the streets of a small town, but the 13-year-old daughter helped two younger siblings to safety before debris crushed the van and killed her.
Jessica Miller died Sunday night when a tree and parts of a church roof hit the van as it raced through this small southwestern Pennsylvania town.
She was among at least 17 people who died as weekend storms tore through the country from South Dakota to New England. Tornadoes struck the northern Plains, upper Midwest and the Northeast, destroying homes and businesses and knocking out power to over 1 million customers.
The storm and tornado in Salisbury were blamed for the injuries of 30 people, including four who were struck by lightning.
The Millers were on their way home from a graduation party when they saw the twister, which the National Weather Service said spawned winds of 150 mph.
``They tried to turn around to outrun it, but it overtook them,'' Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller said.
Jessica was in the minivan's middle seat with her 4-year-old brother, Joshua, and 7-year-old sister, Barbie, in the back.
Jessica's aunt, Sandy Hutzell, said the older girl pushed Barbie to the floor in the back of the van and handed Joshua to her mother in the front passenger seat before debris fell on the van, crushing Jessica and nearly cutting the vehicle in half
``She made sure they were safe, more than herself,'' Mrs. Hutzell said Monday.
Barbie was treated and released from a hospital. The others weren't injured, Mrs. Hutzell said.