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
Easter 2014 photos


Click on any photo to purchase it.

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
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
2013 Photos of the year


Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.