News and Tribune

March 2012 tornado coverage

March 4, 2013

Helping hands on The Hill: Some Daisy Hill residents rebuild while others move on

PEKIN — On the front porch of her home by Jordan Lake in Pekin, Donna Kaelin has always had a ritual. In the mornings, she and her partner Will Callahan would grab cups of coffee, sit outside and take in the world. 

But last summer, things were different. Not as many yellow finches or hummingbirds flew through her yard. More importantly, her companion of 10 years had a hard time joining her on the veranda to watch the birds that did visit. He was still healing from the injuries he sustained in the deadly March 2, 2012, tornadoes that tore through their quiet town. 

Due to Callahan’s brave act that day, Kaelin had survived the destruction to her daughter’s Daisy Hill home where she had taken refuge. Using his own body as a shield, Callahan covered Kaelin, her daughter and grandchildren, and neighbor Marilyn Jackson and effectively blocked the flying debris from hitting them.

“I don’t consider myself a hero. It’s just something you don’t think about doing until something happens like this,” Callahan said.

He, though, wasn’t quite so lucky. Cinder blocks from an old flue fell on him during the EF-4 tornado, crushing his leg. Initially, doctors wanted to amputate it, but he asked them to give it one last shot. They did and his leg was spared. More than 10 surgeries later, he’s recently been able to get around with only the use of a cane. 

“It tickles him that he’s advanced that much. He’s looking forward to the warm weather,” she said. 

In February, the couple journeyed back to her daughter’s damaged house. Her daughter has since moved off the hill and has placed the property up for sale. She said the emotions of that day returned upon seeing the remnants of the home. 

Text Only | Photo Reprints
March 2012 tornado coverage
LOCAL MAGAZINES
2013 Photos of the year


Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.

SPECIAL CONTENT
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
2013 Photos of the year


Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.