HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. — Stormy weather caused real damage in parts of the Mid-South on Thursday, including a tree falling on a home in Helena-West Helena and trapping a man inside.
When the tree demolished his house, it trapped resident Thomas McDaniel inside. Rescue crews worked hours to free him.
A neighbor said McDaniel was badly injured, and she is praying for his recovery.
“I heard a loud ‘bang,'” neighbor Samantha Scott said. “It had been raining, and a large storm had some through. We didn’t know if it was a tornado or not.”
The loud bang Scott heard was a tree crushing her neighbor’s house. Her worst fears were that McDaniel was underneath the rubble.
“I know that he was at home because his vehicles are the only ones that have a car alarm back here, and the lights were blinking,” Scott said. “There was damage all on the vehicles and everything. I didn’t know if he was okay or not.”
Shortly after that, Scott said emergency crews started to arrive at the house on Sulpher Springs Road and began searching for McDaniel.
Helena-West Helena Mayor Kevin Smith posted pictures on the city’s Facebook page showing first responders surrounding the house and climbing on the roof in a frantic effort to find McDaniel. He said the situation was very tense.
“You could hear chainsaws,” Scott said. “They were trying to get the tree chopped up and lifted up. You could hear them, ‘Don’t lift this so high, be careful.’ We could hear everything from in the house.”
She said the rescue operation took several hours, but they were finally able to free McDaniel.
Mayor Smith posted on Facebook, “Victim is out and on his way to the ER. No EM responders hurt. Good job everyone.”
“They said that the tree had landed across his chest,” Scott said. “And they didn’t have any word of his condition or anything. We still don’t know if he’s okay or not.”
Scott, who has known the victim for years, said there is only one thing people can do now.
“Everyone please be praying,” she said.
We reached out to the Helena-West Helena hospital for an update on McDaniel’s condition, but we have not heard back.