Funeral arrangements for 7th Harrisburg tornado victim

HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) - The Saline County coroner has confirmed a seventh person has died from injuries sustained in the EF4 tornado on Feb. 29.

Saline County Coroner Doug Watson says Donald Smith, 70, of Harrisburg died Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Ind. from head injuries sustained in the tornado.

"We see we have another casualty – a real close friend of my family and our heart goes out to those people this morning," said Fire Chief Bill Summers.

"Mr. Smith was a very well thought of and respected member of our community and our hearts are definitely and prayers are definitely going out to his family," Harrisburg Mayor Eric Gregg. "It's difficult, we want everyone to recover."

Smith's wife is in critical condition in a hospital.

The Vanderburgh County coroner notified the Saline County coroner Smith had passed away.

Vickery Funeral Home in Equality is handling funeral arrangements.

Graveside services for Smith will be at the Level Hill Cemetery near Junction, Illinois on Tuesday starting at 1 p.m.

According to the funeral home, Smith is survived by two daughters.  Smith and his wife lived in an apartment on Brady Street.  One of his daughters lived across the street from him.  Her house was also destroyed in the tornado.

Smith was a retired coal miner.

Six other people died on the day of the tornado when it hit just before dawn.

They are Mary Osman, 75, of Harrisburg, Jaylynn Ferrell, 22, of Harrisburg, Lynda Hull, 74, of Galatia, Donna Rann, 61, of Eldorado, Randy Rann, 64, of Eldorado and Greg Swierk, 50, who was from out of town, according to the coroner.

"If we get knocked down seven times, we will get up eight times," said Gregg. "We are not going to be stopped, not now, not ever. We are going to do what we have to do to put this city back on track."

The National Weather Service reports an EF4 tornado hit Saline County on the southwest side of Harrisburg. The peak wind was estimated at 180 miles per hour, according to the weather service.  It touched down around 4:51 a.m. one mile north of Carrier Mills and traveled ENE toward Harrisburg, touching down in Harrisburg at 4:56 a.m.  The path of the tornado was more than seven miles long and about 250 yards wide.

Meanwhile, rebuilding has continued in Harrisburg.

The sheriff's office says the cleanup is going fast, and trusses are even going up on some damaged buildings.

"What I've experienced the last few days is a resiliency of the human spirit that I have never seen in my 50 years of life and I just, I'm just inspired by what I've seen," Mayor Gregg said.  "This town will be back, we will rebuild. We will be bigger and better than ever. We will do that to honor those who've been lost. We will do that to honor those who've been hurt in this horrific event, but we will stand up."

More than 2,000 volunteers have come through the SIC Foundation building on North Commercial St.  Key players and cheerleaders from the St. Louis Rams will be at the Harrisburg H.S. Gym Friday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. for an autograph signing.

The American Red Cross has had 64 volunteers from the Little Egypt Chapter office volunteer.  Thye've come from Grand Chain to Steeleville to Pinckneyville.  Crisis counselors are still out in the community. They have already completed more than 224 mental health contacts along with the pastors that work with them as well.  Health services nurses are still here and out in the community.  They have done 52 contacts.

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