Camper Killed When Tornado Hits Mass. RV Park
In a campground there is precious little shelter, but when a tornado roared through the Village Green Family Campground on Route 20 in Brimfield, Mass., on Wednesday (June 1), Ron Gebo did his best and took cover in the bathroom, the Worcester Telegram reported.
“I went in to get a cigarette,” Gebo said. “I came back out to open the door and you could hear it. I looked up, you could hear it like a freight train, and it was right there. I ran into the bathroom, ducked down, and went for a ride.”
The campground was destroyed. Nearly every camper or trailer was thrown somewhere or obliterated. Propane tanks hissed as rescue crews called out to see if anyone called back.
Gebo said he smacked his back, but he was otherwise unhurt, despite getting bounced around, end over end, for about 30 to 40 feet.
When Gebo got out, he said, he ran to his uncle's trailer nearby. His uncle was trapped, but was not seriously hurt.
Then Gebo saw an overturned motorhome belonging to a couple he knew.
“I found him trapped,” Gebo said. “Then I found her. I checked for a pulse, but I couldn't find one.”
State officials tonight said four people were dead after the storms, and one of them was killed in Brimfield. No identifications were available.
As ambulances and emergency vehicles raced back and forth from the scene, small circular puffs of cloud twirled over the hills in the distance.
“I hope that's not headed our way,” said Rob Wojtczak of Sturbridge, who said he ran up the street to help.
Wojtczak said there were several people at the campground who suffered broken legs, and said he came upon the dead woman's body. Gebo estimated there were 100 people at the camp when the tornado struck.
Access to the site was hampered initially as downed trees and power lines blocked large sections of Route 20. From various vantage points, the tornado's eastward path through the campground was complete and obvious. Trees were snapped like matchsticks all along a ridge leading to a pond or river. The buzz of chainsaws started up here and there; the air smelled like a lumberyard. Oddities were everywhere in the wreckage; a trio of beer cans sat untouched on the floor of a trailer. The loose change remained untouched in the center console of a truck.
In the campground, witnesses and emergency workers said they heard that everyone at the campground was accounted for.
A lone dog could be heard barking. It was not injured, but it would not come out from under a Jeep Comanche that had been smashed by a pickup truck.
Just yards from where the woman who was killed was still pinned, Brimfield EMT Kate Kopronski stretched out on the muddy ground to try to coax the Chihuaha-looking dog, whose name was Daisy, out from under the pickup. She barked, but was not aggressive — just scared.
After a few minutes, Kopronski finally managed to pet the dog, then grabbed her red collar. She was dirty but just fine. Kopronski picked up the dog and made the treacherous hike through the rubble up to the main house of the campground, which was not as seriously damaged as the rest of the area.