School picnic at Kenneywood-tornado hits

  1. I was at Kenneywood Park yesterday when a tornado hit! It came on suddenly, first a downpour and then this incredible wind. That place looked like a tornado hit-literally. The wind was horizontal, blowing so hard and dirt just got in your eyes. A tree was sent about 50 ft in the air about 50 ft from us. My oldest had a tree fall 2 ft from her, right where she had just been. This is typical story of everyone who was there. The Log Jammer had a huge pine tree over it, according to Brenna, my youngest. She was in the Merry go round with her back turned against the wind, using her body to shield her smaller friends. I was under the huge pavilion behind the Old Mill, bottom level , and I had to take care of a little girl who was hysterical while her mother went out in the storm to look for her 8 yo niece. People who were over by the whip and the first aid told tales of blood everywhere. We didn't hear word of the injured or death til a while later when they were evacuating the park, At first, after the storm, the sun came out and everyone was walking around in a pretty jocular mood, walking around surveying the damage. Then the mood turned somber and their were alot of people that were separated from their families and alot of tears. You couldn't move to another part of the park to look for them, you just had to stay in one place and hope to spot them. The one 7th grader could't find her brother, her mother wasn't there, and everyone was consoling her , adults and children alike. He was found safe and sound. The ride " The Whip" was full to capacity and the roof collapsed. I heard on the news that it was lifted and set down twenty feet away.
    Cell phone service was out for the most part, and there were alot of frantic parents that weren't there and didn't know if their kids were okay.
    I was not in the area of the park where the roof collapsed, of course they closed it off right away. Emergency response was on the seen right away, before the information circulated through the crowd of the building collapse. No information was given out to the crowd, except to leave immediately. I didn't know if the rumors of the collapse and death were true or not. The crowd where I was near the exit was calm and orderly.
    Here is a link from the Tribune Review:
    Last edit by cargal on Jun 1, '02
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    About cargal

    Joined: Sep '00; Posts: 735; Likes: 3


  3. by   aimeee
    How terrifying! I'm glad you and your family are safe. T's and P's for those who were injured.
  4. by   Zee_RN
    Cargal, we were there on Tuesday for our School Picnic. We were on the Whip at 7PM on Tuesday when it was raining and there were a lot of people seeking shelter under its awning as it is the only covered ride in that area. We are devastated by the news.

    For those of you who are not familiar with the area, Kennywood Park is a tradition in this area. It is a Historical Landmark, founded in the 1890s. The ride, The Whip, was built in 1918. Kennywood has the only surviving wooden racing rollercoaster in the world (parallel tracks with cars that race each other). The Thunderbolt has long been rated the #1 Wooden Roller Coaster in the U.S.; not sure if it still holds that ranking. It also features another wooden roller coaster called "The Jackrabbit" which features a double-dip that literally lifts you off your seat. Of course, they have modern rides too.

    All the school districts in this area have "Kennywood Day." The kids get the day off to go to Kennywood. Tickets are sold at the school at a discounted rate and you go to Kennywood on your school picnic day and it is just such a tradition! People go to Kennywood on their school picnic day YEARS and YEARS after they have graduated (like, up into retirement days). They also have nationality days at Kennywood (Italian Day, Slovak Day, etc.) Yesterday was a school picnic day for a large area school district (Cargal's, previous poster, school district).

    Many of us have such lifelong memories of Kennywood! My great-grandmother went to Kennywood! We are praying that the park can recover from this terrible event.

    One of my fellow ICU nurses had a son trapped under the Whip's roof as it came down but was uninjured. Three other nurses from my Unit were there, too, and I have not heard from them yet. I'm assuming no news is good news.

    Here's a little clip:


    Authorities now say one person was killed and 47 people were injured -- many of them children --at the Kennywood amusement park in suburban Pittsburgh.

    The death and injuries happened when roof covering a ride called The Whip collapsed tonight during severe thunderstorms.

    Park officials and doctors say most of the injuries were caused by hail or flying debris, rather than the collapsing roof over the ride.

    According to the National Weather Service the storm was packing winds as high as 80 miles per hour.

    Of course, the Pittsburgh area in general suffered a lot of damage. It's just so tragic, though, when it hits a place of fun that's packed with kids.
  5. by   oramar
    Oh Geez Cargal, were you there, so glad everyone all right in your family. Three serious injuries, two kids hurt bad and one adult critical. The zoo took a pounding also. They had closed at 6 oclock so no injuries, animals fine. As bad as the damage was everywhere else there were no reports of injuries.
  6. by   nursedawn67
    I just read the article...brought tears to my frightening for everyone involved! Everyone is in my thoughts and prayers.
  7. by   cargal
    Nice to hear from all of you, esp my burgh buddies. We will connoiter (?) sometime! Oramar, had received your PM and PM'd ya back. Zee, nice to hear from you, have you seen my buddy LQH lately?
    Yes, it seems Western Pa has seen it's share of tragedies lately, and especially this past week. Oramar, see the to see what I am speaking of- I went past the funeral home tonite and God, it was sad. Kiss your children for me. My family is doing well.
  8. by   oramar
    Lawrenceville and Bloomfield have terrible damage, I think a lot of those houses have to be torn down. My mom has a lot of debris in her yard and family is converging tomorrow to clean up. My brother's wife seemed shook up, their house was badly damaged in the June 2 tornado couple years ago and this brings back bad memories.
  9. by   LISAJO
    My daughter was there on Thursday. When I heard the news I got chills. Prayers go out to all that were injured and to the family of the little one who got taking away...... Glad you and your family are safe.
  10. by   kaycee
    So sad there was the loss of one life but it could of been so much worse.
    Thank God it wasn't. I haven't seen horizontal rain in a long time. They called it a macro-burst.
    We received 1 child in our ED. Hit by a sign. Minor injury.
  11. by   NRSKarenRN
    Heard on the news at looked bad. Glad to here you survived unscathed. Philly area getting your flash storms-----will say payer for those injured. Luck my nook not getting bad stuff.
  12. by   fedupnurse
    Gald you are ok! That must have been truly terrifying! Especially those separated from their families. I just couldn't imagine! Thank God you and your family got thru that terible ordeal!
  13. by   Jas honey
    I am from West Mifflin, in fact I lived most of my life by Duquesne Village. I live in Richmond now and heard about this on the Weather Channel! I was and still am quite upset by this. I worked at Kennywood all through high school, as so many of us did, and I too go back for Croatian day!!! (gotta have the barbecued lamb mmmmmm) It is sad to see the pictures of the devastation back home. Thanks to all yunz Pittsburghers for keeping us informed. I miss it there!
  14. by   Zee_RN
    Went to work last night and learned that the mother of the woman who died works at my hospital. My charge nurse's 10-year-old son was trapped under the wreckage of the Whip. She and her son went with another ICU nurse and her family. The friend's husband had escorted her son to the Whip and the boy insisted on riding alone. Then it came down and no one could find him! The mother was half-way across the park when she learned no one could find her son. He's OK, he crawled out...he said he saw a crack of light and just "crawled like a baby" until he got out...but came out into a total wreck and it was still raining with terrible wind. The friend's husband who was escorting him is the most traumatized. The police wouldn't let the mother through the barricade into Lost Kennywood and nearly had to restrain her. The boy is OK but a bit traumatized, as many are.

    Oh, and the empty seat where the friend's husband wanted to ride with the boy? Crushed by a steel beam.