A.J. Hernandez among youngest victims; 23 dead

The victims of a deadly tornado that ripped through Western Alabama Sunday and killed 23 people include four children with the youngest being a 6-year-old boy. 

Names and ages of victims were released at news conference in Lee County, Alabama, on Tuesday held by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local law enforcement officials. 

One man lost seven family members, officials said. The oldest to die was 89, according to the report released by authorities. 

The tornado, an EF-4 tornado with winds of 170 mph, cut through a nearly one-mile-wide path that stretched over at least 24 miles through the small town of Beauregard, Alabama, near the border with Georgia. 

It marked the deadliest tornado outbreak in the United States since 2013. Dozens more were injured. Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said seven or eight people are still unaccounted for. 

A.J. Hernandez, 6

The youngest fatality is believed to be 6-year-old Armando “A.J.” Hernandez, according to NBC and ABC News.

The boy’s mother, Kayla Melton, declined to speak to the television network, but she called him the “sweetest little boy” on the caption of a photo of Hernandez that she provided. 

Taylor Thornton, 10

 Fourth-grade student Taylor Thornton’s death was reported on the Facebook page of Lee-Scott Academy in Auburn, Alabama, a Christian school that she attended.

The school said Taylor “was welcomed into the arms of Jesus as the result of the severe weather event in Lee County yesterday.”

The school scheduled a community-wide prayer for Tuesday, and loved ones have created a GoFundMe Page to help cover funeral costs. More than $32,000 has already been raised, surpassing the $15,000 goal. 

Vicki Braswell, 69

Vicki Braswell, 69, was killed when the wall of a mobile home collapsed on her as she and her family sheltered at 2888 Lee Road, one of the hardest-hit areas.

Braswell, her daughter and granddaughter took shelter beneath a mattress in their double-wide mobile home while other family members huddled nearby. 

“We heard it coming but by the time we knew what it was, it hit us. That’s when all hell broke loose,” said Steve Whatley, Braswell’s son-in-law. “It picked us up and dumped us back down 50 feet away.”

Whatley’s wife was still hospitalized Monday with multiple injuries. Family friend Jordan Miller, 17, grabbed a chainsaw and cut the wall apart to free the trapped women. 

Beauregard tornado victims

Armando “A.J.” Hernandez, 6

Charlotte Ann Miller, 59

David Dean, 53

Emmanuel Jones, 53

Eric Jamal Stenson, 38

Felicia Woodall, 22

Florel Tate Stenson, 63

Henry Lewis Stenson, 65

Irma Gomez-Morgan, 41

James Henry Tate, 86

Jimmy Lee Jones, 89

Jonathan Marquez Brown, 9

Maggie Delight Robinson, 57

Mamie Roberts Koon, 68

Marshall Lynn Grimes, 59

Mary Louise Jones, 83

Mykala Waldon, 8

Raymond Robinson Jr., 63

Ryan Pence, 22

Shelia Creech, 59

Taylor Thornton, 10

Tresia Robinson, 62

Vicki Braswell, 69

Contributing: Staff writers Jorge L. Ortiz and Trevor Hughes and The Associated Press 
Reach Joey Garrison at jgarrison@usatoday.com and on Twitter @joeygarrison.

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