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Friday, April 18, 2014

Searchers say they know of no one left missing

BY STAN FINGER, FRED MANN AND RON SYLVESTER
The Wichita Eagle

After the death toll climbed to 11, rescue workers in the town of Greensburg said this afternoon they appear have everyone accounted for from the ravages of tornadoes sweeping across central Kansas Friday night.

"We're looking, but it's not like they're out there and we're not telling you," said David Sterbenz, deputy chief of the Topeka Fire Department, said at a news conference. "The fact is we don't have a name.

"If we have a name of anyone missing, we will search for them." Earlier this morning, a 46-year-old police officer died from injuries suffered after he was hit by one of the tornadoes.

Robert "Tim" Buckman, 46, died at Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Francis campus, hospital officials announced.

Buckman, who worked for the Macksville Police Department, was struck by a tornado in his patrol car on U.S. 50 near Macksville late Friday night as he worked as a storm spotter.

The same storm generated the 1.7-mile-wide EF-5 tornado that killed at least nine people in Greensburg at about 9:45 p.m. Friday.

At morning news briefing, Greensburg city administrator Steve Hewitt released the names of three more of the dead found in the town soon after the tornado.

They are:

• Evelyn Kelly, 75, of Greensburg

• Sarah Tackett, 71, of Greensburg

• Richard J. Fry, 62, of Albuquerque, N.M.

Next of kin have been notified, Hewitt said.

The National Weather Service in Dodge City has said the Greensburg tornado was on the ground for 22 miles before dying northwest of the Kiowa County seat.

A second tornado produced by the supercell grew to 2 miles wide and killed 84-year-old Alex Giles in Pratt County near Hopewell. The National Weather Service reported that the tornado, which stayed on the ground for 20 miles, was an EF-3.

The tornado that struck Buckman was the third tornado spawned by the thunderstorm, said Larry Ruthi, the meteorologist-in-charge at the Dodge City branch. It was difficult to see because it was wrapped in rain and at night.

The EF-3 tornado was a half-mile wide, Ruthi said, and was on the ground for 22 miles.

Buckman's organs have been donated in accordance with his wishes, his family said.

Check Kansas.com for updates and the full story in Wednesday's Eagle.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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