Clean-up continues from Ottawa tornado, 2 dead

Friday, March 3, 2017

OTTAWA, Ill. - Neighbors came together to help those affected by the Tuesday evening storms in northern Illinois, while mourning Wayne Tuntland and David Johnson.

Crews from all over northern Illinois were in Naplate, Ill., on Thursday, working furiously to clean up the mess from the tornado.

Michael Carlson was raised in Ottawa and has moved away. But when he saw the damage, he immediately offered to pitch in.

"I grew up running the streets and alleys in this town I just wanted to come back and help," said Carlson.

Pat Henry spent the day cutting up the massive branches from a century-old oak tree that crumped the roof of the home where he raised his children.

"A lot of these trees over here are just like toothpicks plucked right out of the ground. It's just amazing," he said.

An army of utility workers were working to restore power in Naplate, and many former residents have been flocking back.

"I gerw up running the streets and the alleys in this town. I just wanted to come back and help," said Michael Carlson, former Naplate resident.

The Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network brought in crews from other towns to help the cleanup effort.

"There's just more work here than one community can do, so it's fantastic when other communities can help out their neighbor," said Mark Drfler from the Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network.

The city warned residents about fake contractors trying to scam people. Approved contractors will have a badge from police.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner surveyed the damage Wednesday in Ottawa and nearby Naplate, Ill., where at least 50 of the town's 200 homes sustained major damage.

Ottawa's mayor told ABC7 that the power company expected to have power restored soon to all but a few isolated areas. At that point, the mayor said police will be able to reopen the streets, which have only been open to residents and contractors.


Two people died in Ottawa, Ill., after a tree fell on them as a tornado tore through the town Tuesday night.

The LaSalle and Peoria county coroner's offices identified the two victims as 76-year-old Wayne Tuntland, of Ottawa, and 31-year-old David Johnson, of the 400-block of State Street in Ottawa.

Tuntland, his son and Johnson, his son's spouse, were working in their backyard when a tree uprooted by the tornado landed on them.

"A family member went outside to notify them that a storm was approaching. It looks like they were in the process of returning to the home. Unfortunately the tree came down on them," LaSalle County Deputy Coroner Rich Ploch said.

Tuntland was crushed by the tree and died at the scene.

Johnson suffered severe head trauma and was transported to OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa. He was then transferred by Life Flight Helicopter to OSF Saint Francis medical Center in Peoria, where he died at 4:54 p.m. Wednesday. The coroner does not plan to do an autopsy.

His spouse was treated at Saint Elizabeth and was released Thursday morning.

PHOTOS: Tornado damage in Ottawa, Naplate

Kelly Peterson was in a car Tuesday when another tree nearly killed her. She escaped uninjured.

"Everything crashed on top of me. I could hear the wind. I crawled in to the passenger side because that was the only part of the car that wasn't collapsed," Peterson said.

There is also extensive tornado damage in Crossville, Ill., where a third man was killed during a tornado. The village of less than 1,000 sits near the Indiana state line in White County.

The man who was killed was in front of his house when the tornado hit. He was found about 70 yards away in the field behind his home.