18 Dead in Storm Destruction—Including Concert Roof Cave-In

Tom Brenner/Reuters
Tom Brenner/Reuters

At least 18 people were killed in series of ferocious storms, including dozens of tornados, that whipped through the Midwest and South.

Among the dead was a 50-year-old man who was struck when the roof of the Apollo Theater in Belvidere, Illinois, collapsed during the severe weather on Friday night.

A sold-out crowd of 260 people was inside the venue to hear bands Morbid Angel, Revocation, and Skeletal Remains when debris came crashing down inside and the marquee sheared off outside. Five people were taken to the hospital with severe injuries, 18 with moderate injuries, and five with minor injuries, officials said.

Video posted online showed music fans trying to lift up slabs of the ceiling that landed on the floor, presumably to help anyone who might be trapped underneath.

Elsewhere, five people died in Arkansas, three in Indiana, one in Alabama and one in Mississippi, ABC News reported. Seven were killed in McNairy Coumty, Tennessee, alone.

“Literally, in a matter of minutes, it went through the entire western portion of the city of Little Rock,” Mayor Frank Scott told CNN, calling the storms' impact “devastating.” The mayor of Wynne, Arkansas, said her town had been “cut in half by damage from east to west.”

In Belvidere, Gabrielle Lewellyn said as she was walking up to the Apollo theater when the wind “went from zero to a thousand within five seconds.”

When she rushed inside, theater staff were discussing whether to move people to the basement and within a minute, the ceiling came crashing down.

“I did watch a lot of people get in there and really just tackle getting people out,” she told WTVO. “There was a bunch of guys and they lifted the piece of the ceiling off whoever was under there.”

Theresa Best told WLS-TV that she was on her way to the show when disaster struck and she was trying to reach friends who got there before her.

“The metal community is so nice, and my heart just aches for anybody who did lose their life. I just hope all my friends are OK,” she said.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday he was “closely monitoring” the situation in Belvidere. “I’ve been in touch with officials for updates and to direct any available resources we can,” he tweeted.

Members of the bands that were scheduled to play posted on social media that all the musicians were fine.

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