woodridge tornado

“It's Very Emotional:' Family of Unborn Child Killed in in Woodridge Tornado Reacts A Year Later

NBC Universal, Inc.

One year after a tornado tore through her community, Woodridge resident Katie Wilson and her family still coming to grips with the ways that her life has changed.

She relies on a wheelchair. She's in physical therapy twice a week to regain her strength, along with her ability to walk.

 "I had at least three strokes," said Wilson. "I also had multiple fractures all along my left side, a broken collar bone, scapula, punctured lung. I had part of my skull removed."

Katie doesn't remember that traumatic night or the many months to follow that she spent in a hospital bed recovering.

Her husband, Bryan, will never forget.

"Just [have to] figure it out. Not much else you can do," said Bryan Wilson on moving forward.

At the time, the couple and their daughter, Ryan, were living with family while they waited to close on a new house. During the storm, they awoke to cell phone alerts.

"I just heard everything crashing," Bryan said of the chaotic moments that followed.

Katie rushed to get her daughter to safety, but on her way, tree limbs crashed through the roof, knocking her to the ground. She was seven months pregnant.

"Our son did not survive the trauma," she said.

Because they'd lost power, Bryan couldn't see what happened to his wife. He heard crashing sounds before stumbling upon her in the hallway. He immediately jumped into action to save her life.

"I took [the blanket] off, and I just saw the blood and ran to grab my phone and try to find something to put my hands on and stop the bleeding," he said. "Find my phone call 911."

There was so much debris in the street, an ambulance couldn't make it to the house. First responders had to carry Katie to safety.

"They had to park a block away. They ended up carrying her out in a comforter down the street," said Bryan.

Although the physical wounds are slowly healing, and the damage has been cleared, the emotional trauma is far from over.

"[Ryan] will talk about Baby Blanket. That’s what she called Jordan," said Katie. "My husband would tell her he’s our superhero. 'He saved mom. He saved you.' She thinks of him as a little superhero, which he is."

The Wilsons credit their neighbors with their continued recovery. In the aftermath of the storm, community members stepped up to help clean debris, provide food and monetary support, and toys for their young daughter.

"The mayor dropped off a ham. What mayor does that?" said Katie. "The community has been absolutely phenomenal."

Friends and family also organized a golf outing at Village Greens in their honor. And last week, Woodridge officials held a Jubilee to benefit victims through its "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" organization.

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