Deadly tornado in Manatee County claims 2 lives

Posted at 9:30 PM, Jan 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-18 06:53:15-05

The violent storm struck in predawn hours Sunday.

The spot where Steve and Kelli Wilson's mobile home stood is littered with previous family belongings and debris.

Their mobile home was ripped off the blocks, and thrown over here to road. All that’s left is debris as the community mourns the loss of two beloved neighbors and grandparents.

“I still can’t believe this, looking at all this. That was their home,” neighbor Sharon Barnhill said of what remains of Steve and Kelli Wilson's mobile home.

The debris stretches for hundreds of yards from where Steve and Kelli Wilson lived.

“Wonderful people, you could not ask for better neighbors or better friends,” neighbor Randy Sharp said of the Wilsons.

The disaster in the Manatee County community of Duette came from a tornado so powerful it tore through the mobile home and snapped a telephone pole nearby.

Neighbors scrambled to try and help, but the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said Steve Wilson was found dead in the wreckage.

“I was yelling, 'Where’s Steve, where’s Steve,'" Sharp said his voice cracking. "My neighbor told me Steve was already gone.”

Stephen Wilson's wife Kelli made it out, where Barnhill tried to comfort her.

“She kept saying she couldn’t breath. She kept trying to get up and we just kept telling her to lay still,” Barnhill said.

But in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Kelli Wilson died from an apparent heart attack.

In the middle of such terrible loss, there is also an amazing story of survival.

The Wilsons' son, Mike, and four grandchildren, ages 6 to 10, were also inside and some how escaped to this barn.

“I’m amazed to see that any body got out of this alive," Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube." You’ve looked at the debris behind us. This is just complete devastation to this home.”

Neighbors came together Sunday to clean up.

Brendan Betancourt, a friend of the Wilson family, set up one of three GoFundMe accounts to raise money to help alleviate some of the costs for burial, medical expenses, and other incidental expenses. To help out, visit, or