The Deadly Holton Tornado: A Year Later

Posted On March 01, 2013

A piece of sheet metal lodged in a tree by the March 2, 2012 tornado in Holton remains in place a year later, a reminder of the storm’s lasting impact.

Mike Perleberg-Eagle 99.3



A Holton homeowner wonders why it has taken so long to get their tornado-damaged roof repaired.

Mike Perleberg-Eagle 99.3


(Holton, Ind.) – There are many reminders about what happened one year ago Saturday in the Ripley County town of Holton.


The small community along U.S. 50 was struck by an EF3 tornado packing winds up to 140 MPH on March 2, 2012. A scar not only remains across the town and surrounding landscape with a two mile stretch of trees cracked in half, but also in the minds of Holton residents.


Three people lost their lives as a result of injuries from the tornado that cut down Versailles Street. They were Ronald Pickett and Armando Hernandez the day of the tornado. Ted Tolbert suffered a broken neck in the storm and passed away in January having never fully recovered.


Many other residents in Holton are still rebuilding their lives. Several new homes are going up around the town. Telephone poles and utility lines have been replaced. Dumpsters around town are still being filled with debris left by the tornado. Community leaders say the town has come a long way in a year.


Conversely, empty home foundations are scattered through the community. A piece of sheet metal remains hung up in a tree. Many homes who had their roofs torn off by the storm are still using tarps to stay dry. One home’s damaged roof is spray painted with a frustrating question “ERIE INSURANCE 1 YR LATER???”




Some scars left by the storm may never heal, but Pastor Bob McCreary of the Holton Christian Church is trying his best. McCreary says a memorial service will be hosted on the Holton tornado anniversary Saturday. The Holton Christian Church hosts the event starting at 3:00 p.m.


“We will have a special service to remember the loss that so many of our neighbors experienced but also celebrate the path to recovery,” McCreary said.


Folks are welcome to come and share their memories. There will be live music by Keith Swinney Band, which lost bassist Ronald Pickett in the tornado. Keith, a Holton resident, has been a large part of the rebuilding effort.


“Many of the groups that have been so instrumental in the recovery process will be recognized. We would like to extend an invitation to anyone who has lent a helping hand to come and be part of this special service,” said McCreary.


A moment of silence will be observed at 3:58 p.m., the exact time that the tornado struck.


The service will end with a walk down Versailles Street. Wreaths will be laid for each of the three victims who lost their lives.




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