Mississippi Dad and Daughter, 1, Killed After Tornado Destroyed Home, Family Hospitalized: 'Shattered'

Ethan Herndon and daughter Riley died on Friday, while his wife and two older children survived and are being treated for injuries, family members say

Donations to this fund will go directly to the family of Ethan Herndon and his baby daughter Riley Herndon who lost their lives on March 24th when a tornado destroyed their home in Wren, Mississippi.
Herndon family. Photo: GoFundMe

A Mississippi family is "physically and emotionally shattered" after their home was destroyed by a deadly tornado on Friday, killing a father and his young daughter, and injuring the rest of his family, according to loved ones.

Ethan Herndon, 33, and 1-year-old daughter Riley died after a tornado struck their home in Wren, where they lived on a street that was named after their family, which has lived there for generations, according to The New York Times.

Riley, who was just a month away from her second birthday, was remembered by her aunt as "a really happy baby," per the newspaper. She went on to say that her brother, a Navy veteran who worked at an RV dealership, "loved his family more than anything."

Ethan and Riley are survived by his wife, Elizabeth, as well as Riley's older siblings, Aubrey and Brantley.

"This sweet family is physically and emotionally shattered. They have suffered the most painful and terrifying loss any of us can imagine, and their needs are obvious and great," reads a message on the family's GoFundMe, which has raised over $131,000 as of Monday.

Elizabeth "suffered multiple injuries including a broken arm and leg as well as a dislocated hip," a family member wrote.

"Brantley, the oldest child was airlifted to LeBonheur Hospital immediately with multiple broken bones, a lacerated liver, and a punctured lung," the family member shared, adding that Aubrey was hospitalized with "multiple lacerations, a broken elbow, and a possible broken ankle."

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Over the weekend, Ethan's cousin wrote that the family's injuries "are much more extensive" than they initially thought, and that Ethan's parents lost their home as well.

In a separate update, Ethan's sister wrote that Brantley will require "extensive surgery" and that Aubrey's "oxygen level is struggling to stay where it needs to be."

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In the midst of their "heartbreaking" loss, the family is also grateful for the love and support they've received.

"I visited Elizabeth today. I told her there were so many people who loved her and were praying for her, Brantley, and Aubrey," Ethan's cousin wrote on Sunday. "She said she could feel the prayers from everyone."

"She has a long recovery ahead of her, but with God's grace, she will continue to improve day by day," the cousin's post continued. "Please continue to lift her up in prayer along with Brantley and Aubrey."

As of Sunday, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) reported 25 fatalities and dozens of injuries as a result of the deadly tornadoes that tore through the state. Additionally, the storms claimed at least one other life in Alabama.

As search and recovery efforts continue, Gov. Tate Reeves warned over the weekend that there's a risk of "more bad weather heading our way."

As of Monday, MSEMA said that there was a "moderate" risk of severe weather in central Mississippi and throughout southern parts of the state.

"Please take caution, check weather alerts, and keep your families safe," Tate wrote on social media. "We're monitoring the situation and have emergency management prepared to respond as necessary."

Some of the ways you can help tornado victims include donating to the United Way of West Central Mississippi, which is focusing on water donations and financial support, as well as the American Red Cross, which is helping provide food at a number of local shelters.

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