Three Omahans and One Iowan Killed in Tornado

Three Omaha teens and an Eagle Grove, Iowa teen have been identified as the Scouts who lost their lives when a tornado hit the Little Sioux Scout Ranch Wednesday. They are identified as Josh Fennen, 13, Sam Thomsen, 13 and Ben Petrzilka, 14, all of Omaha and Aaron Eilerts, 14, of Eagle Grove.

Along with those killed, 48 people were injured.

Counselor A.J. Losen captured the above image of the tornado on a cell phone camera, "and I kept recording it right up until I saw it was going straight for the Ranger's house and kind of coming towards me," Losen said. "And that's when I went into the administration building.

"There was a little window I could see and all these trees were coming down and then part of the roof came off and I could see all the air get sucked out of that building real quick and that's when I kinda got down in the corner."

The pictures of the damage seen on this page were shot by Jesse Rothgeb shortly after the storm ripped through.

Some of the injured had been on a hike when the tornado struck, leaving them without protection from the deadly winds. The others were in a shelter.

Russ Lawrenson of the Mondamin Fire Department said warnings had been issued before the tornado hit the area, but he doubted the campers had time to seek shelter. "The tornado came in pretty fast."

A search and rescue team deployed after the twister hit about 6:35 p.m. and had to cut their way through branches and debris to reach the camp during a lightning storm.

Iowa Public Safety Director Eugene Meyer said the camp's isolated location and stormy weather hampered the rescue response. "The rescue efforts are being complicated because this is in a heavily wooded area and we are still facing lightning strikes and bad weather in the area."

About 100 responders descended on the scene.

Leadership Training Week activities were underway at the Scout Ranch located in Iowa's Loess Hills.

"All of the buildings are gone, most of the tents are gone, most of the trees are destroyed," Lloyd Roitstein, president of the Boy Scouts of Mid-America Council, told CNN. "You've got 1,800 acres of property that are destroyed right now."

There were 93 campers and 25 staff members at the camp when the tornado struck. The campers were between 13 and 18 years old and from Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.

All campers and staff have been accounted for. Those not hurt were reunited with their parents, who were told to go to Nealy Hall, a community center in Little Sioux where they could be reunited with their children or told of their injuries.

Of the 48 hurt, 42 required hospitalization with injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to head trauma.

The injured who were taken to Creighton University Medical Center are 15-year-old Michael Abell (good condition), 15-year-old Mason Flora (stable condition) 13-year-old Kevin Hanna (stable condition), 14-year-old Andrew Eisenbraun (fair condition) and 13-year-old Xavier Olivo (fair condition). They are being treated for injuries ranging from a skull and pelvic fracture to a spinal cord injury.

Missouri Valley Alegent Health says it received 11 patients. Eight were treated and released. Three were transported to Omaha. The worst injury of the three was a hip fracture.

Burgess Health Center in Onawa spokeswoman Beth Frangedakis said 19 victims were the first to arrive at the hospital about 8:30 p.m. Their ages ranged from 2 months to 15 years, plus three adults.

Frangedakis said four were admitted to the hospital, one was taken by helicopter to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City and two were released. The others were being treated at the Onawa hospital.

Gayle Jessen of Fremont, Nebraska said her 19-year-old son Zach is a staff leader at the camp. He called his parents to say he had a bruise on an arm and was being treated at a hospital.

"I'm so relieved my son is okay," said Jessen, who added her husband was headed to the hospital to pick up their son.

The 1,800 acre ranch is about 15 minutes east of Interstate 29, about 40 miles north of Omaha. Its amenities include hiking trails through narrow valleys and over steep hills, a 15-acre lake and a rifle range.