Wednesday is a solemn day for residents of Lake Township and Millbury, as they look back on a group of powerful tornados that took seven lives as they ripped through the area.
The storm hit northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan late on the evening of June 5, 2010. More than 100 structures, including Lake High School, were destroyed by the time the sun rose on June 6.
Five tornados touched down throughout the night, hitting Lake Township, Millbury, Moline, Delta in Ohio and Estral Beach, Dundee, and northern Lenawee County in Michigan. Areas from Fulton County to eastern Wood County were hit the hardest, with all seven deaths happening in either Lake Township or Millbury.
The Walters Family
Thirty-six-year-old Mary Walters, 37-year-old Ryan Walters and their 4-year-old son Hayden were killed when a tornado hit their Millbury home. Seven-year-old Madison Walters was also inside the home, but survived.
"He was always running around and having fun. Driving his mom and dad crazy. Afraid he was going to fall off or hurt himself. Energetic, full of fun and life," said Scott Gibson, describing Hayden.
Earlier Saturday night Scott and Kristie Gibson had the Walters family over for dinner. Mary and Kristie were best friends.
"She was a people person. She loved kids and that showed at home, work, school, church. Everyone knows that everybody loved her too," Kristie said.
Bailey Bowman and her boyfriend Gerald Lathrop were returning from dinner along SR 795 when a twister dropped down out of the sky.
They stopped their car and made a mad dash for the Lake Twp. Police station.
"The tornado picked me up," said Lathrop. "I landed between two boulders. Whole building collapsed on me. I crawled out, and an officer from the township let me inside."
But Bowman was not so lucky. She was killed.
"They went out and found Bailey in the yard. She didn't make it," Lathrop said.
Bailey left behind her boyfriend and young son Gerald Jr.
"Bailey was energetic. Filled with life and just an amazing person," Bailey's dad, Mike Granata, said.
The Lake Township Administration Building, right next to the police station, was destroyed by the tornados, along with several Lake Township Police cars. The police station was heavily damaged.
Fifty-six-year-old Kathleen Hammitt of Wauseon was driving home from visiting her husband at an Oregon hospital with her two daughters in a car directly behind her when the storms hit.
The cars were traveling down State Route 795 in Lake Township when the daughters say the storm kicked up, seemingly suddenly.
What happened next, the sisters say they will never forget: The tornado picked up their mother's car and tossed it about 50 yards.
"I just remember screaming for my mom, trying to figure out how we were going to get out of that car," Hammitt's daughter Amy said.
First responders arrived and told the women to stay in their car. They told the sisters their mom had been killed.
"It was gutwrenching, like getting hit by a Mack Truck and falling off a cliff all at the same time," Amy said. "Our mother was the most amazing, positive, spiritually driven woman in the world."
Ted Kranz, 46, was killed when one of the tornados hit his family's Millbury home. Kranz's daughter Kathy was valedictorian of the Lake High School class of 2010. Her father died hours before she was set to graduate in the gymnasium the storm destroyed.
"It was nice to see that the community came together and had this wonderful idea to have this memory of all the people that passed away that horrible night," Kranz's wife Cindy said at the dedication of a memorial on the one year anniversary of the storms.
The final fatality attributed to the storms came nearly 2 months later, when 97-year-old Millbury resident Irwin Welling died of injuries suffered during the storm at a Toledo Hospital on July 31, 2010. Welling and his wife were pulled from the rubble of their home after the tornado hit.
Some people who barely escaped with their lives say this time, they're prepared if another tornado strikes.
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