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Mother dies holding 2-year-old son in tornado near Nashville

Authorities identified the mother and child as 31-year-old Floridema Perez and her son Anthony. Their 37-year-old neighbor Joseph Dalton also died.
Mother dies holding 2-year-old son in tornado near Nashville
Posted at 2:23 PM, Dec 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-11 16:23:45-05

Neighbors in a Tennessee community just north of Nashville said a mother was found dead holding her 2-year-old son after their home was thrown on top of another home when an EF2 tornado tore through their neighborhood on Saturday.  

Wanda McClemor lived next door to the mobile homes that were tossed around by the tornado on Nesbitt Lane in Madison. She said she walked out of her home after the storm passed hoping to hear a baby crying so they could find them alive. 

"We were out here listening for a baby, and they thought maybe [the child] had blown away," McClemor said. 

She said when the tornado passed over her own home it sounded like someone sticking a commercial vacuum right up to her ear.  

"I looked out and didn't see the trailer, and we heard someone hollering for help. You could hear them calling for help. But by the time we got out here, there were people already trying to get to them," she said. 

Neighbors searched frantically for the missing mom and child. Eventually, the child was found, still wrapped in his mother's arms. Both of them were pronounced dead.

"They said they couldn't find the baby because she was holding it, covering it," said McClemor, trying to hold back tears. 

Authorities identified the mother and child as 31-year-old Floridema Perez and her son Anthony. Their 37-year-old neighbor Joseph Dalton, who was in the other home thrown by the tornado, was also killed in the storm. 

Two other children and the 2-year-old's father, Elecazar Perez, survived the impact. The father told Scripps News Nashville they were asleep when the tornado hit. 

"I went in last night and I prayed. I prayed they would just be unconscious,” McClemor recalled. "But that wasn't the case." 

Three other lives were claimed by severe storms throughout middle Tennesee, including a 10-year-old boy named Arlan Burnham who died after a tornado hit his home in Montgomery County, according to Scripps News Nashville.

At least 62 people were injured, officials said. 

The tornado that hit Clarksville, Tennessee was an EF3, with peak winds of 150 mph, the National Weather Service office in Nashville confirmed. It was on the ground for more than an hour, traveling 43 miles across Montgomery County, Tennessee, and Todd and Logan counties in Kentucky. At its widest point the tornado’s path was 600 yards.

This story was originally published by Nick Beres and Emily R. West at Scripps News Nashville


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