Heather Town; Photo from Facebook
Heather Town and her children, Photo from WTSP.COM
VENUS, Fla. - A Florida mother killed protecting her daughter from a tornado that tore through their neighborhood, has ties to Western New York.
Heather Town, a mother-of-three, was found deep in the woods still clutching her child after the two of them were tossed from their mobile home for nearly 200 yards during a tornado on Sunday.
Town has family in both Randolph, NY and Jamestown. While they do not live here any longer, they come back to visit occasionally and still have many of their relatives that live here.
"I am so proud of my daughter," said Heather's father, Elmer Town. "I can picture her holding that little girl of hers. She died for her."
Exended family in the Southern Tier agrees with his sentiments.
"You can never fight a mother, not even Mother Nature can fight a mother," said Heidi Erickson, Heather's Aunt. "She will hold on to that child to her death. And she did. And we are so proud and honored to have her in our lives."
The child, Ann Marie, was held so tightly that her ribs are broken, along with her pelvis. Heather held on until the very end.
Crystal Walker, Town's sister, sifted through the rubble Monday, holding back tears. "I just can't," she said. "I just can't believe it. She's gone."
Kim Bass lives across the street and held Ann Marie when the child was rescued. "She cried and closed her eyes, too afraid to open them again."
Paramedics tried desperately to save Heather, but it was too late.
Both mother and child were found covered in barbed wire and debris after being thrown into the woods behind their mobile home.
"It really was like a freight train. Complete and utter devastation. This the worst thing to ever happen to our community," Bass said.
Ann Marie is now at Tampa General Hospital recovering while her family makes funeral arrangements. Doctors say she has a shattered pelvis, broken ribs, a bruised lung, and cuts all over her body.
Three little girls are now without their mother after her heroic actions. Ann Marie, Amber, and Angelica were often seen with their mother walking around the neighborhood. "She loved being a mother," said Bass. "Those kids were her life."
If you would like to help the children, please make a donation in care of "the Town children" at any TD Bank in the Tampa Bay area.
WTSP / AP / WGRZ