A dried pool of blood, almost black, remained on the floor, flowing out from under the couch where 11-year-old Sarah Radney died.
A hole gapes in the ceiling right above where she sat when Hurricane Michael’s powerful winds catapulted a concrete-embedded post through the roof. It smashed onto her head.
Her grandfather Eugene Radney removed the concrete block from her face and held her lifeless body.
“When I picked her up, I knew she was gone,” he said, still reeling a week later. He rubbed his eyes and coughed, trying to block tears. “She was so limp.”
He remembers the time — 4:21 p.m. on Wednesday. The post was holding up the carport in his backyard at least 50 feet away. The rest of the lakefront, modular house was untouched, save for a blown-out window and the damaged corner of the carport.
“It just seemed like God’s timing,” Eugene said.
Sarah sat down on the couch next to her grandmother seconds before the sudden force of the hurtling post burst through the ceiling like a bomb. Eugene was sitting across the room in his green recliner. Her grandmother, Elizabeth, who sat a foot away from Sarah, suffered a collapsed lung and a bruised arm.
It would take five hours for emergency medical services to arrive. Eugene held Sarah’s little hand as wind and debris swirled around the living room. He laid her down, covered her with a purple-and-blue quilt, and called her dad, Roy Radney.
Roy, staying three counties away in Thomasville with a cousin, called every few minutes to ask if she was breathing.
“It was panic,” Roy, 37, said Thursday, staring into the distance. “You never think that anything like this is going to happen.
“You always worry but you always feel like you’re going to be OK in the end. This time shows — it’s not always like that. We always say, ‘That won’t happen to us,’ but it really can. It can happen.”
Broken glass and insulation settle on the wooden floors of the house like remnants of an exploded pillow. Sarah and her brother Gavin, 12, were spending fall break at their grandparents’ place about 60 miles northwest of Tallahassee and at least 100 miles from the coast.
Hours before the winds arrived like a freight-train, Eugene’s glowing granddaughter said her last prayer at breakfast. They held hands and she closed her eyes.
“God, be with my daddy, my step-mama, my brother Gavin and my sisters,” she said, naming them all. She prayed for her grandparents and for her incarcerated mom. “Be with my mama. Let her get back on the right track and follow You.”
As the historic hurricane plowed farther inland, Sarah gazed out the window with her brother in awe of the powerful rain and gusts of wind. She sang “Amazing Grace.”
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Source: USA Today