PARKERSBURG - A Belleville man who died in a storm Thursday was killed after helping his wife to safety from the tornado, the Wood County coroner said Friday.
Larry J. Freeman, 57, was found in a field about 300 feet from his residence, Coroner Mike St. Clair said.
Freeman made sure his wife, Sandra, and their dog got in the basement where they were safe from the winds and debris, St. Clair said. The husband did not make it into the basement, St. Clair said.
Photo by Michael Erb People stand in what once was the living room of a home on Ohio 124 in Reedsville on Friday morning. A storm tore through the area Thursday evening, damaging or destroying at least 25 homes and injuring dozens. No fatalities were repo
"His last act was assisting his wife and dog," St. Clair said.
The Freeman residence at 11175 Harris Highway, W.Va. 68, was destroyed, he said.
The National Weather Service said a tornado touched down in Athens County and in Belleville, but has yet to confirm the storm in Reedsville was a tornado.
Power outages and customers affected, as reported by Allegheny Power:
The storm in Reedsville and Belleville Thursday night caused widespread destruction and sent at least 10 people to St. Joseph's and Camden-Clark Memorial hospitals, according to reports from hospitals. Another six or seven people were treated for injuries at a disaster station at the old Humphrey School in Belleville, officials said at a press conference Friday.
One person taken to Camden-Clark was transferred to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown and another was in an intensive care unit at Camden-Clark. The others were treated and released.
Lee Creek Road in Belleville from Pond Creek to W.Va. 68 is closed until further notice, Sheriff Jeff Sandy said. Deputies will patrol Belleville to prevent theft, according to the sheriff.
"We have many people who will be gathering what is left of their personal belongings from homes that have been damaged," Sandy told the newspaper. "Anyone who comes and tries to take the personal property of others will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
In Athens County, two people taken to O'Bleness Hospital have been transferred to Grant Medical Center in Columbus. Three people were admitted to O'Bleness while another half dozen were treated and released.
American Electric Power had reported more than 7,500 customers without service.
The Allegheny Power substation in Belleville was severely damaged, affecting power to more than 1,000 customers in Wood, Jackson, Wirt and other counties, spokesman Mark Nitowski said. Repairs to the substation are expected to be completed today, he said.
The tornado "caused some significant damage to the lines going in and out of our substation," he said.
However, the damage was confined to one general area, allowing the company to move repair crews into Belleville from other districts and concentrate repairs there, he said.