PIEDMONT — Searchers found the body of a 3-year-old boy Thursday, two days after a tornado pulled him out of a bathtub where he huddled with his family and flung him into a lake 60 yards away.
The death of Ryan Hamil brings the number of people killed in Tuesday's Oklahoma tornadoes to 10, including the boy's 15-month-old brother, Cole. Their sister, Cathleen, 5, and mother, Catherine Hamil, 36, were injured and remain hospitalized — the girl in critical condition and the woman in fair condition.
The boy's father, Hank Hamil, who was away working during the tornado, participated in the search and had been hoping his son would be found alive.
“It's a bad deal,” Hamil said at a news conference, his voice quavering. “I've lost both my boys.
“Ryan was my little buddy. Cole was, too. I loved them both.”
Dogs led searchers to the body, which surfaced about four feet off the west shore of Falcon Lake at a Piedmont-area subdivision where the family lives, just south of Waterloo Road about a quarter mile east of Sara Road.
More than 100 searchers had combed the area. Dogs had picked up the boy's scent near the shore, but a large amount of debris — including sheet metal, boards, parts of houses and even a car — in the water hindered search efforts.
Hamil was working in Texas on a wheat harvest when the tornado struck. He came home and spent hours searching for the boy.
“I just want to thank everyone for helping and being there,” he said.
Debra Hamil, the grandmother, said Catherine Hamil, has undergone two significant surgeries at OU Medical Center.
She is pregnant, and the grandmother said the unborn baby is fine.
She also said Cathleen is recovering.
Neighbor found mother, 2 children
John Land, 40, who lives just north of Falcon Lake, was at home when the tornado heavily damaged his house and destroyed homes in the area.
He found Catherine Hamil lying on the foundation of her home about five feet away from an overturned bathtub.
The tornado blew apart the house. Its walls were gone.
Land said he backed up his pickup to the foundation and was preparing to take the mother to the hospital when she told him her three children were missing.
“She was hollering and saying, ‘I've got three kids!' So, I parked and knew we weren't going anywhere,” Land said.
Another man arrived to help him, and they spotted Cathleen lying about 20 yards away.
She had a head injury. About 50 yards from the house, Cole was found amid debris of a destroyed home.
Land said he thought Ryan was in the water at the time, but he couldn't go in because of the debris in it.
“I'm just sorry this happened. I just feel sorry for them,” Land said.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Chris West said searchers came from Texas, Kansas, Missouri and across Oklahoma to look for the little boy.
“Oklahoma, as well as the rest of the nation, has suffered a lot of blows this tornado season,” he said.
The end of the search was painful.
“It's a very tragic moment for a lot of people in Oklahoma and across the nation,” West said.
Debra Hamil said the family was grateful for the help from searchers and others.
“We just appreciate everybody so much. This is so hard,” she said.
“I don't know how we can repay everyone.”