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Alabama’s tornado dead range from 6 to 89; one family lost 7 | TribLIVE.com
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Alabama’s tornado dead range from 6 to 89; one family lost 7

Associated Press
| Tuesday, March 5, 2019 1:05 p.m
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AP
Debris sits on the side of a road in a neighborhood devastated by a tornado in Beauregard, Ala., Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
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Carol Dean, right, cries while embraced by Megan Anderson and her 18-month-old daughter Madilyn, as Dean sifts through the debris of the home she shared with her husband, David Wayne Dean, who died when a tornado destroyed the house in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019. “He was my wedding gift,” said Dean of her husband whom she married three years ago. “He was one in a million. He’d send me flowers to work just to let me know he loved me. He’d send me some of the biggest strawberries in the world. I’m not going to be the same.”
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Carol Dean, right, is embraced by David Theo Dean as they sift through the debris of the home Carol shared with her husband and David’s father, David Wayne Dean, who died when a tornado destroyed the house in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019. “He was my wedding gift,” said Dean of her husband whom she married three years ago. “He was one in a million. He’d send me flowers to work just to let me know he loved me. He’d send me some of the biggest strawberries in the world. I’m not going to be the same.”
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Danny Allen helps recover belongings while sifting through the debris of a friend’s home destroyed by a tornado in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019.
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Debris from a home litters a yard the day after a tornado blew it off its foundation, lower right, in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019.
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Ashley Griggs, right, helps Joey Roush, left sift through what’s left of his mother’s home after it was destroyed by a tornado in Beauregard, Ala., Monday, March 4, 2019.

BEAUREGARD, Ala. — The youngest victim was 6, the oldest 89. One family lost seven members.

The 23 people killed in the nation’s deadliest tornado in nearly six years came into focus Tuesday when the coroner finished identifying them and released their names.

“Just keep those families in your prayers,” Lee County Coroner Bill Harris said, two days after the disaster. “It’s a tragic situation.”

The search for victims in and around the devastated rural community of Beauregard continued, with crews using heavy equipment to lift large chunks of wreckage. But Sheriff Jay Jones said the list of missing people had shrunk from dozens to just seven or eight.

“We are still conducting some searches, sifting through piles of debris where there may be people or animals,” said Opelika Fire Chief Byron Prather. “We haven’t given up hope.”

Four children were killed, ages 6, 8, 9 and 10.

The dead also included 53-year-old David Wayne Dean, whose body was found in a neighbor’s yard after the twister demolished his mobile home Sunday afternoon. He was known as “Roaddog” for his love of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

“Our son found him,” his widow, Carol Dean, said between sobs. “He was done and gone before we got to him. My life is gone. He was the reason I lived, the reason that I got up.”

After the tornado passed, she rushed home from work at Walmart and pushed past sheriff’s deputies to be with husband one last time. Picking through the ruins of their home, she found her wedding dress and a Father’s Day note to her husband that read, “Daddy, I love you to pieces.”

The tornado was an EF4 packing winds estimated at 170 mph and chewed a path of destruction up to nine-tenths of a mile wide in Alabama for nearly 27 miles, the National Weather Service said. Ninety people were injured, it said.

Around Beauregard, an unincorporated area of roughly 10,000 people near the Georgia state line, mobile homes tucked among tall pine trees were swept from their bases and smashed into unrecognizable piles of rubble. Toys, clothes, insulation, water heaters and pieces of metal were scattered across the hillsides where the pines were snapped in half.

Law enforcement teams searching for victims used dogs and heat-detecting drones.

It was the deadliest tornado to hit the U.S. since May 2013, when an EF5 twister killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma.

Government teams surveying storm damage confirmed Tuesday that at least 18 tornadoes struck on Sunday in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina alone.

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