Woman dies while trying to shield child from storm - FOX 13 News

Woman dies while trying to shield child from Highlands County tornado

Posted: Updated:
VENUS, Fla. (FOX 13) -

A 32-year-old Highlands County mother was killed Sunday after being thrown 200 feet by a tornado -- all the while clutching her 3-year-old daughter -- who miraculously survived.

Heather Town was thrown approximately 200 feet into a wooded area when the tornado struck her mobile home on Montana Trail in Venus, deputies said. Shortly after the storm moved through, neighbor Shane Penrod heard a child crying. He and Jason Knapek, another neighbor, searched the woods and found Heather cradling her daughter.

"When they found her, she was literally holding her baby, her little girl," witness Kim Bass recalled. "They took the little child from her because she was having a hard time breathing and she had barbed wire on her and was in a very dense section of woods, about 50 feet back there."

Penrod, Knapek, and other neighbors called 911 and tried to help as best they could.

When deputies and volunteer firefighters arrived, they pronounced Heather dead on the scene. Her daughter AnneMarie was transported to Florida Hospital Lake Placid, and was later transferred to Tampa.

her grandfather told FOX 13 she is in stable condition with a broken pelvis and broken ribs.

According to Sheriff Susan Benton, the human story of this storm is the "protection of a mother for her child; she never let go of her little one, even in death."

The debris field from the tornado extended over several miles from the Montana Trail home.

Property damage was also sustained in the Lake June, Twin Lakes, Cloverleaf and Lorida areas. Several homes suffered structural damage from the storm, and trees and power lines were downed throughout the area, but there was no word of other serious injuries.

Stay with FOX 13 for more updates out of Highlands County.

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