12 tornadoes confirmed in Illinois; Pritzker visits site of deadly Belvidere theater roof collapse

A man dead is dead and 5 of 48 people treated at hospitals remain in critical condition: Pritzker

ByMaher Kawash WLS logo
Sunday, April 2, 2023
Illinois tornado: Gov JB Pritzker visits site of Belvidere, Illinois concert roof collapse that killed Frederick Livingston Jr
A man was killed and five of 48 people treated at hospitals remain in critical condition after a Belvidere roof collapsed, Pritzker said on Sunday morning.

BELVIDERE, Ill. (WLS) -- Recovery efforts continued Sunday in Belvidere with crews still cleaning rubble around the Apollo Theatre.

"This building has been here 100 years. I've been in the community for 54, and I've spent a lot of time here in junior high and high school, so it is a staple," said Belvidere Mayor Clint Morris.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker took in the damage alongside state officials and Morris as the town grapples with Friday night's tragedy that killed one man and injured 48 others when the theater's roof collapsed as severe storms raced through the area. Five people remain in critical condition.

WATCH: Pritzker speaks at site of deadly suburban roof collapse

Governor JB Pritzker spoke Sunday at the site of a deadly Belvidere roof collapse.

Pritzker issued an emergency proclamation to unlock immediate resources for communities across Illinois impacted by the tornadoes and severe weather, including Boone County.

Illinois Emergency Management said its teams will be assessing damage over the next 72 hours.

"If it wasn't for the fast and coordinated efforts, on Friday night, we would have seen a more tragic outcome from events from today," said IEMA Director Alicia Tate Nadeau.

ABC7 Meteorologist Mark McGinnis breaks down NWS's preliminary summary of Belvidere tornado

The National Weather Service has confirmed 12 tornadoes in Illinois Friday, including an EF-1 tornado in the Davis Junction-Belvidere area.

The EF-1 tornado near Belvidere traveled nearly 28 miles across portions of Ogle, Winnebago and Boone counties within just 25 minutes, with peak winds of 100 MPH and a max width of 900 yards, NWS said.

WATCH | Several tornadoes confirmed from Friday's severe weather event in Illinois, Indiana

Several tornadoes confirmed from Friday's severe weather event in Illinois, Indiana

ABC7 Meteorologist Cheryl Scott said an intense storm cell hit the Belvidere area around 7:45 p.m., with winds in excess of 50 mph. A Belvidere resident's Ring camera captured what appeared to be a tornado in the area.

WATCH | Apparent Belvidere tornado caught on video

An apparent Belividere tornado was caught on video by a Ring camera.

During the storm on Friday night, the theater's marquee and facade crashed onto State Street, littering the area with bricks and debris as first responders scrambled to help the wounded. Around 260 people were inside the theater when the collapse happened.

Frederick Forest Livingston Jr., 50, has been identified as the man killed, his employer and sister told ABC News Saturday.

Frederick Forest Livingston, Jr., 50, has been identified as the man killed, his employer and sister told ABC News Saturday.

Livingston's sister Deanna Hicks said he was attending the concert at the theatre with his son, Alex, who Hicks said is "OK."

"On behalf of the family of Frederick Forest Livingston, Jr. Fred was a son, brother, father, uncle and grandpa. Fred was a car (proud owner of a 1967 GTO) and Heavy Metal enthusiast. Fred had a big heart and cared for others deeply. Please keep all of Fred's family and friends in your thoughts. Please respect our privacy," Hicks said in a statement to ABC News:

People had gathered at the theater to see metal bands Morbid Angel, Revocation and Skeletal Remains. The show was scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

Officials believe fellow concert-goers tried to save Livingston by pulling him from debris that landed on him, they said during a Saturday morning press conference.

"The most notable thing is that in the midst of this tragedy, so many people showed up here to help out," Pritzker said on Sunday. "The people of Illinois know that when others are hurting. Neighbors show up for each other to help to alleviate suffering."

WATCH: Officials provide update on deadly Belvidere roof collapse

Officials said they believe fellow concert-goers tried to save the person who died by pulling him from debris that landed on him.

Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle said first responders were on the scene of the collapse within two minutes, since the fire station is just across the street. The Boone County Sheriff's Office confirmed multiple ambulances were called to the scene, and several people were seen being taken away on stretchers.

"It was unreal. It still doesn't feel real and I was 10 feet from it," said concert-goer Christina Johnson.

Johnson said theatre staff announced they were taking a 30 minute break because of weather when chaos quickly ensued.

"After the windows busted, they were trying to get people to the basement. But then the roof collapsed," Johnson explained.

She said it fell right into the main pit area.

"I just remember seeing all these people lifting the roof off of the people. And just trying to pull people out and seeing somebody not moving being pulled out was terrifying," Johnson recalled.

WATCH: See inside Apollo Theatre in Belvidere after roof collapse

Video shows destruction inside Apollo Theatre in Belvidere after roof collapse

Natalie Mulhall's 24-year-old son was at the concert with a friend and his friend's dad. She the friend's dad is the man who died.

"It was scary. I was a nervous wreck for a few minutes, but I had good friends with me and we got here right away," Mulhall' said.

Officials said it is unclear if the roof caved in, or if it was torn off. It is also unclear if those inside did not hear tornado sirens due to loud music.

Apollo Theatre before and after roof collapse

Photos show the Apollo Theatre in Belvidere, Illinois, before and after Friday's EF-1 tornado caused the roof to collapse, killing 1 person and injuring more than 40 others.

"All it sounded like with bombs going down. Boom boom boom." said Brian Bzzinski, who lives across from the theater.

His windows were blown out and describes being knocked to the ground by the strong winds.

"If I didn't get to that door and grab the handle, I would've been gone. No telling where I would've been. And my animals would've been kaput," Bzzinski said.

Those who attended the concert are left questioning why the event wasn't cancelled in the first place.

WATCH: Intense storm cell hits Belvidere

ABC7 Meteorologist Cheryl Scott describes the intense storm cell that hit Belvidere, Illinois around 7:45 p.m. Friday.

"I only went because I thought, they've canceled shows in the past due to weather. I was watching the weather all day, and I thought it was safe to go. And it wasn't. And it wasn't, I went," Johnson said.

"I was planning on going to the concert last night, but I chose not to due to the storm. And I'm kind of glad I did," said Payton Kolec, who lives in Belvidere.

Schadle added that the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System Rescue Team was performing a second, more thorough search and was working to stabilize the building.

Band members spent Saturday moving out their equipment that was left overnight as crews cleared out the debris from the now-condemned Apollo Theatre.

Theresa Best, of Woodstock, was on her way to the concert when friends began calling her frantically to let her know what had happened. She said she has friends who were inside the theater that she hadn't been able to reach.

WATCH: Metal fan waits to hear from friends who were inside collapsed theater

Theresa Best, of Woodstock, had friends inside the Apollo Theatre when the roof collapsed during a sold-out metal concert.

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

Jayden Gallagay, a Belvidere North High School student, also weighed in.

"This does hurt. We don't have anything that happens like this at all about there. It's a community where people enjoy. It's relatively safe, and for something like this to happen so close, it hurts. I'm heartbroken for everyone affected."

Officials said everyone who was inside the theater when it collapsed has been accounted for.

Morris said the community will rally around those injured, and there's also hope to salvage the iconic theater in the near future.

"It is a landmark building. It's downtown. It's identifiable with not only our residents, but people come from all over. They come to the events from all over, so I look forward to the next step of the recovery," Morris said.

The 11 other tornadoes are as listed by NWS:

  • EF-2 near Amboy
  • EF-1 West Brooklyn
  • Near Baileyville (rating TBD)
  • EF-1 Machesney Park
  • Caledonia/Poplar Grove (rating TBD)
  • EF-1 near Wellington
  • EF-1 near Stockland
  • EF-1 Lombard to Addison
  • EF-2 near Oxford
  • EF-2 near Fowler
  • EF-1 near Remington