Mike Tonos 5/20/09
Youngest Pontotoc tornado victim dies after eight years
Jesse Bean has become the seventh person to die from the 2001 storm.
By Regina Butler
The youngest victim of the 2001 tornado that struck Pontotoc has died from complications arising from injuries he suffered in the storm.
Jesse Robert Bean, 12, died Monday, becoming the seventh victim of the storm. For the past several years he lived in Grove City, Pa., with multiple disabilities.
When the deadly tornado struck on the night of Feb. 24, 4-year-old Jesse was staying in Pontotoc with his grandmother, Joyce Sexton, while his father, Gregory Bean, was completing a military transfer.
Jesse and his mother, Sherry Sexton Bean, and his older sister, Kayla Bean, were in a brick house on Highway 341 when the twisting winds touched down. They tore the house off the slab, scattering belongings and the family in the woods beyond.
Pastor Danny Washington of the Judah Church of the Lord Jesus Christ found Jesse about 50 yards from the house. The child suffered severe head trauma and remained in a coma for more than a year.
In addition to the deaths, the tornado injured 43 people and either damaged or destroyed almost 400 structures.
In the years that followed, Jesse was able to attend a multi-disabilities class at Sharpsville Elementary School in Pennsylvania.
"He fought a long, hard battle," his father said this week. "You folks in Pontotoc were so good to us and we appreciate all you did to support our family.
"We know he is finally free of pain and no longer imprisoned. Free to do what little boys are supposed to do, run and play and explore. He has a lot of catching up to do."
Jesse's grandparents, Jimmy and Joyce Sexton, still live in Pontotoc.
Jesse's name will be added to the six other names on the tornado memorial on Highway 41 South at the corner of Liberty Street.