Published June 26, 2012
VENUS, Fla. – A Florida toddler was miraculously found alive in the arms of her dead mother Sunday after they were flung approximately 200 feet from their home by a tornado spawned by Tropical Storm Debby.
MyFoxTampaBay reports 32-year-old Heather Town was found by neighbors in a wooded area after a tornado struck her mobile home in Venus. The neighbors were able to find Town after they heard her three-year-old daughter AnneMarie crying.
"When they found her, she was literally holding her baby, her little girl," witness Kim Bass told MyFoxTampaBay. "They took the little child from her because she was having a hard time breathing and she had barbed wire on her and was in a very dense section of woods, about 50 feet back there."
Town, who was a mother of three, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her father, Elmer Town, tells MyFoxTampaBay AnneMarie is in stable condition with broken ribs and a broken pelvis. He says his daughter's final act shows how much she loved her children.
"We know she held onto that baby and saved her life, and that's the type of person she was," Elmer Town told MyFoxTampaBay.
The victim's sister Crystal says her sister was a brave woman.
"She loved her kids more than anything," Crystal Town told MyFoxTampaBay.
Heather Town's mobile home was completely destroyed by the tornado. The Highlands County Sheriff's Office told the Associated Press Monday several tornadoes moved through the area southeast of Tampa, damaging multiple homes.
In Orange Beach, Ala., fire and rescue workers searched for a South Carolina man who was vacationing with his family when he went under. His name and hometown were not immediately released.
Tropical Storm Debby continued to drench Florida with heavy rains, flood low-lying neighborhoods and knock out power to thousands of homes and businesses as it lingered off the state's coast Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.