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Toddler dies after tornado causes tree to fall on Michigan home

An EF1 tornado touched down Wednesday in the town of Livonia, about 20 miles west of Detroit.
tree in livonia home
Posted at 11:14 AM, Jun 06, 2024

A 2-year-old child died Wednesday when a tree fell onto a house after a tornado touched down in Michigan.

The National Weather Service confirmed that the tornado was an EF1 with winds estimated at 95 mph, and it traveled roughly 5.5 miles through Livonia — about 20 miles west of Detroit. NWS said it will continue to survey damage in the area.

TORNADO DAMAGE LIVONIA

According to the Livonia fire chief, firefighters were dispatched around 3:35 p.m. for a tree that had fallen in a residential area. When firefighters arrived, they found a “massive tree” that was uprooted and had fallen onto the roof of a home, Livonia Fire Department Chief Robert Jennison said.

Chopper 7 over home tree fell into in Livonia

The tree landed on a bedroom in the back of the home where the 2-year-old and the child’s mother were. The tree pinned them to a bed.

Jennison said all available units in the city were dispatched to the home. The Western Wayne County Urban Search and Rescue team was called to assist at the scene.

Crews worked for about an hour to get the tree off the home, removing parts of the roof. High-pressure lifting air bags were used to free the victims.

“About a dozen chainsaws and 25 firefighters cutting the tree to pieces until we could get enough of the weight off to be able to lift the massive trunks off of her and remove her from the bed,” Jennison said. 

The 2-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. The mother, who remained conscious during the rescue effort, was taken to the hospital in critical condition. She was being treated by paramedics as she was being rescued.

A 2-week-old was in a crib that was in another room. That room was not impacted by the fallen tree. The baby was taken to the hospital by firefighters with the grandmother.

TREE IN LIVONIA HOME

“This was a very traumatic scene. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of the victims. This was a tough day," Jennison told reporters at the scene. "We have a lot of fathers and they have children that are similar ages. But this is what they do. This is what they train for. There’s going to be some healing that needs to go on after this, but this is what they’re here for and this is what they do.”

There were no warnings issued or sirens heard during the storm.

“It was just a very quick, pop-up storm, talking with the National Weather Service, and something which is very unpredictable to determine,” said Brian Kahn, the director of emergency preparedness. “This is a tragic day and this is a part of the job that we all hate. And being a father myself, it’s just something I couldn’t even possibly imagine.”

Officials are working to clean up the area and get roads back open. Officials are also working to restore power in the area, Kahn said.

“This is a terrible tragedy for our community,” Mayor Maureen Miller Brosnan said in a statement the city released. “Our hearts are broken, too, and we send our deepest sympathies.”

People living in the area spent hours cleaning the damage left behind.

“Just gives me goosebumps. Hope I never have to go through this again,” said neighbor Susan Hill.

Residents are mindful of the tragedy that happened nearby, knowing for the victims and their family, the damage will never be repaired.

“We can always put stuff back together. Can't get somebody's life back,” neighbor Kevin Martyka said.

Hill said: "She's just the sweetest person I've ever met and the little boy was just so cute and I hadn't seen the baby yet. And I'm just saying prayers for her.”

This story was originally published by Natalia Escalante at Scripps News Detroit.