Weather Alert

Sheriff’s deputy “died saving lives” when tornado struck, family says

In Mayfield, Kentucky, there is devastation in every corner as search and rescue crews continue to look for those who may be trapped or missing after tornadoes hit that state and Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi and Illinois on Friday. 

At least 74 people have died in the state of Kentucky and more than 100 are still unaccounted for.  

“With this amount of damage and rubble, it may be a week or even more before we have a final count on the number of lost lives,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said.  

The strength of the tornadoes wiped out neighborhoods in minutes—creating a daunting cleanup effort. 

“We still have rescue operations in multiple places all across our county,” said Mayfield Fire Department Assistant Chief Darin French. 

All 110 employees who were working inside a candle factory in Mayfield when a tornado struck have been accounted for, according to officials. 

At least eight people died there including Robert Daniel, a father of seven and a sheriff’s deputy who was supervising inmates working in the factory as part of a work-release program. 

“I can’t believe it. He was such a great man, such a good dad. He did what he could when he could. Even if he couldn’t he still tried. I’m gonna miss him,” his daughter, Jenna Daniels told CBS News’ David Begnaud. 

It was only Daniel’s fourth night supervising the inmates. When the tornado hit, Daniel’s daughter said he helped his inmates to safety—sacrificing his own life in the process. 

“He died saving lives and for that, he deserves all the honor. He deserves everything. He did his job and he did it well because all of his inmates survived,” Jenna said. 

Darryl Johnson said he rushed to the factory early Saturday morning looking for his sister Niecy. The 50-year-old mother of four and grandmother to 16 did not survive. 
 
“If I expected anyone, it would be her. Because she’s a fighter… I’m very angry. I’m angry at Mayfield Consumer Products for not heeding this warning,” Darryl said. 

Mayfield Consumer Products Plant Manager Michael Staten told CBS News that the “city has never seen such a tornado. However, we’ve had many tornado drills. Also it’s just something that we never even imagined would have even happened.” 

Kentucky state officials warn people could be without heat, water, or electricity for weeks or longer because of the sheer amount of damage, and there is more danger on the way. Temperatures are expected to dip below freezing by the end of the week. 



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