Trio of Benton twister victims remain critical

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

BLACKJACK – The human toll of the weekend tornado that swept through Benton County will play out for weeks and months to come in the Nance family.
Thirty-four-year-old Shane, his wife Rhonda, also 34, and their 13-year-old son Wade, remain as patients in three different hospitals recovering from critical injuries. Wade’s brother Logan, 7, is staying with his uncle, Brent Nance, until he’s back with his parents and brother.
The family was awakened moments before the tornado struck the Blackjack community, about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, said Shane’s aunt, Helen Nance.
“He just had time to get everybody up and in the hall before it hit,” Helen Nance said.
They didn’t have time to leave their mobile home for a shelter, she said, though they’ve gone in the past to a storm shelter in Ashland or to Shane’s grandmother’s home in Ashland to wait out severe weather.
“Shane said the storm picked the trailer up, and when he looked out the window it looked like they were 20 feet in the air,” Helen Nance said. “He knew when they got dropped it would be a very hard drop. It dropped them across the road and debris was all on top of them. His father had to dig them out.”
Logan isn’t hospitalized now, but he suffered a head injury. He was the first to regain consciousness, found a cell phone and called his grandfather, Larry Nance, for help.
When Larry Nance tried going through Blackjack Road to reach the family, he found it blocked.
“Fortunately, he works for the county and knew a lot of back roads to get to them,” Helen Nance said. “He finally got through on what’s called Old Nance Road, but he and another man had to cut through a tree to get in there.”
Since daybreak Sunday, even through the day’s heavy rainfall, and until now, Helen Nance said friends and family members have been working steadily to help with cleanup. She gave an update of family members’ conditions on Tuesday:
– Shane Nance is remains in critical condition at North Mississippi Medical Center with a broken back. Though he won’t require surgery, he will need up to a couple of months of recovery.
– Rhonda Nance remains in intensive care at The Med in Memphis, having undergone surgery for a broken back on Monday, and also has broken ribs and a punctured lung.
– Wade Nance remains in critical condition at the intensive care unit at LeBonheur in Memphis.
“It’s going to be a long road to get them back on their feet, but they’re still alive and that’s the main thing,” Helen Nance said.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.