A 6-year-old boy was among the victims of the deadly tornadoes that hit Alabama on Sunday, taking the lives of 23 people. Armando Hernandez, also known as AJ, was found dead after becoming separated from his mother in Beauregard when the tornado struck. Before learning of his death, his mother Kayla Melton posted a desperate appeal on Facebook asking for help with finding out his whereabouts.
“Please look for my baby hes 6 years old his name is Armando Hernandez he goes by AJ last seen on lee road 38. Anyone in the area please help me find him please!!!!!” she wrote, according to the Daily Mail.
The tragedy was later confirmed on social media by family members, with relative Tina Melton writing an emotional text that described the little boy as “always eager to give hugs and loved his family.”
“They are headed to the children’s hospital with his brother. They also lost their home in the tornado with all belongings. Fly high AJ. You have your wings,” Melton wrote.
At least two tornadoes hit Lee County on Sunday, with wind speeds between 136 mph and 165 mph, killing at least 23 people. A family from Beauregard, which is a community about 60 miles east of Montgomery near the border with Georgia, also told WSFA 12 that an 8-year-old girl had also died following the natural catastrophe.
BREAKING: At least 14 confirmed dead after apparent tornado strike in eastern Alabama, sheriff says. https://t.co/QYEPzn0ljA
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 4, 2019
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said the path of damage and destruction left in the town was at least a half mile wide. Several homes were completely destroyed, with Jones saying that many residents were taken to the hospital with “very serious injuries.” While search rescue operations started shortly after, with drones skimming the area for survivors, they had to be halted due to dangerous conditions and are to be resumed on Monday morning.
President Donald Trump sent out his thoughts and prayers to the people hit by the tragedy in a Twitter statement, asking everyone to “please be careful and safe.”
“Tornadoes and storms were truly violent and more could be coming. To the families and friends of the victims, and to the injured, God bless you all,” he tweeted on Sunday night.
His daughter Ivanka also tweeted, “Keeping all affected by the tornados in Georgia and Alabama in our prayers.”
— CNN (@CNN) March 4, 2019
Dozens of emergency responders were called in to help, with Lee County Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Rita Smith stating there were about 150 people assisting in the aftermath.
“They are doing a phenomenal job. Sadly, we know that we have two known confirmed fatalities and many, many injuries,” Smith said.
(The featured image in this article is for illustrative purposes only.)