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Deaths, injuries confirmed in reported Cooke County tornado

Deaths, injuries confirmed in reported Cooke County tornado

  • PublishedMay 26, 2024

Sheriff Ray Sappington said 60 to 80 people were injured at the AP Travel Center during the storm, and that there were confirmed fatalities in a nearby community.

VALLEY VIEW, Texas — At least five people are dead, and more than 60 people injured, following a reported tornado Saturday night near Valley View, the Cooke County Sheriff has confirmed.

Speaking from the site of the decimated AP Travel Center at the intersection of I-35 and Lone Oak Road between Valley View and Sanger early Sunday morning, Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington gave a bleak assessment of the tragic damage wrought by Saturday night’s storms.

He confirmed that at least five people were killed in the reported tornado — including children, Sappington said.

“I can also tell you that number is going to go up,” he added. “I don’t want to speculate and give you a number.”

Most of those fatalities, Sappington said, occurred at the nearby FRF Estates, where crews were continuing search-and-rescue efforts amidst “major damage.”

At least two additional children in Cooke County were also reported missing in the wake of the storm, Sappington said.

Meanwhile, dozens were injured when the storm descended upon the AP Travel Center — home to a Shell gas station and some restaurants — late Saturday as well. Sappington said that number totaled anywhere from 60 to 80 people, many of whom had pulled into the establishment to seek cover either in the parking lot or within the restrooms inside.

Sappington credited the help his department received from neighboring agencies for helping the injured get treated and sent home for the night.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response from departments out of county — from Grayson County and Denton County, and Sanger, and the different law enforcement agencies, fire department and EMS teams that showed up tonight to give us a hand and we really appreciate it.”

He feared, however, that the worst was still to come.

“I just think about daylight and what we’re really going to find,” Sappington said. “And I don’t think it’s going to be good.”

In the meantime, the sheriff pleaded for others to stay away from the scene.

“We have plenty of folks on scene, plenty of first-responders out here,” he said. “It would really help if people just stayed away right now, gave us a few hours to get our search and rescue done. I know some people were out of the area and trying to get back, but it’s dangerous out there. Power lines are down. There’s been reports of gas leaks. It’s just dangerous right now. Just give us some time to do what we need to do. We’re trying to still rescue people. The best thing people can do right now is give us a little time.”  

Time, he said, would also be important in the coming days, weeks and months as his community heals from the damage it endured Saturday.

“We’ll rebuild,” he said. “It’s Texas. We can rebuild property, and as horrible as this looks, in two or three months, it won’t look like this [then]. It’ll be better. But the loss of life is just tragic. It’s always tragic. That’s what hurts the most.”

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