Friends, family mourn 2 killed by tornadoes

November 20, 2008 5:49:55 PM PST
Residents are picking up the pieces after tornadoes cut a path of destruction through several area counties.A total of five communities, Clement, Meadows, Kenly, Elm City and Pine Level are cleaning up from the weekend storms.

The twisters touched down around 3 a.m. Saturday morning killing 2 people in Wilson and Johnston Counties.

The victims include 61-year-old Marilyn Gomez of Kenly and 11-year-old Joshua Wiggins of Elm City.

Eyewitness News spoke with Wiggins' principal and teacher who are trying to comfort students.

A white cross surrounded by toys marks the spot where Wiggins was found dead, about 60 yards from his home that was destroyed by one of Saturday's tornadoes. A neighbor also left a poem at the site.

At Toisnot Middle School, students and teachers remember Wiggins as an energetic and well liked sixth grader. Rarely by himself he hung out with a lot of friends.

Wiggins' homeroom teacher says he was one of the few students that gave her a hug every day.

He played in the school band, sang in the chorus and wanted to be a scientist.

His death is the first student lost in the school's 22 year history.

Students spent time Monday putting their feelings in writing. His teacher says he will be remembered long after the storm has passed.

Eyewitness News also spoke with Gomez's husband, Argiro Gomez, in a one-one-one interview Monday.

Gomez remains at WakeMed two days after the storm. He is recovering and is in fair condition.

Family surrounds Gomez as he heals from a scratched face, punctured lung and broken ribs he recalls waking up Saturday morning to his house shaking.

In an exclusive bedside interview he describes how he and his wife happened to be sleeping in separate bedrooms when the tornado lifted their house off of its foundation.

"I tried to turn the lights on and I felt the house going ? and something struck me from the back and knocked me out," Gomez said. "Then the rain woke me up. I was lying down on my chest. I looked around nothing but debris then I turned on my back looked up and said where's the roof? There's no roof ? no walls. I said, Marilyn? Marilyn?"

He says he couldn't find his wife of 22 years. A neighbor tried to help, but an officer confirmed the worst.

"I asked him was she hurt. He said, 'Not even a scratch.' I said, 'Thank God!'," Gomez said. "She died in bed, in her sleep, she didn't suffer."

Gomez says on Friday she went shopping with a friend then cooked a big meal before dying in her sleep, he says a perfect last day on earth.


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