The morning after, David Neely was walking among the damage on Williamson Road.
“To see this, it’s just devastating,” he said, “I’ve lived here all my life.”
The National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF-2 tornado did, in fact, touch down in southwestern York County Wednesday in a freak storm that killed three people and sent five more to the hospital.
The victims were identified as Steve Courtney, 60, and husband and wife Charles Hafner, 60, and Barbara Hafner, 62.
York County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Mike Baker said rescue officials were still searching for possible victims, even though there were no reports of anyone missing. “We’re simply doing a thorough search of the area,” Baker said, “We also are assisting the family members, the residents, to try to get back into their homes, recover their property, and assess the damage.
Neely says his sister-in-law was among those injured, “From what I understand, a tree came through the roof and caught her in the restroom where she was trying to get out of the storm. It lifted the bathtub up and set it back down on her feet. She was pinned under the tree and under the bathtub.”
He said she would be okay and did not even suffer any broken bones. Neely came out Thursday to help his brother clean up the damage.
Others were not so fortunate. The Hafners died after their mobile home was ripped from its moorings and tossed by the storm into a neighbor’s yard. Courtney’s family told the Rock Hill Herald that he died when his home’s chimney collapsed on top of him as he was crouched behind a couch.
The South Carolina Emergency Preparedness Division said ten counties reported damage from Wednesday’s storm. The local EMD office said Wednesday’s deaths were the first due to a tornado in York County since 1926.
The York County Sheriff’s Office says seven homes were extensively damaged or destroyed in the storm. Most of the severe damage was along Highway 324 near the junctions with Williamson and Skyline Roads. The site is within a few miles of South Pointe High School.
Andrew Kiel of Rock Hill station WRHI filed this report