HARRAH — On May 9, family gathered to wish Joanne Kay Ross a happy birthday.
"She was turning 65, and we were giving her a hard time,” said Rick Price, Ross' son. "We just had a little cookout. She loved being around her family.”
A day later, a tornado ripped through Ross' neighborhood, destroyed her house and tossed her more than 60 feet from her wrecked home. She died Friday from complications linked to the injuries she suffered in the tornado and was buried Wednesday.
Her death brings the number of people killed by the May 10 tornado outbreak to three; a fourth person died from a heart attack suffered during the storm.
Recovery, then shock
When the storm hit, Ross broke her back in two places, Price said. She had surgery, but post-surgery complications started affecting her digestive tract, then her lungs. For a time, Ross was on a ventilator.
By Memorial Day, she was off the breathing machine and appeared to be on the mend, Price said.
But soon thereafter, she relapsed. She was placed back on a ventilator Friday and died that night.
"We thought she was doing great,” Price said.
"We still couldn't understand.”
'A loving person'
Price described his mother as an easy-to-please woman who enjoyed being around family. She suffered from hearing problems, but it didn't stop her from going camping and boating with her loved ones, he said.
"She was a loving person,” he said. "She loved being around family and she loved animals. She always had dogs.
"She was just a happy person. We're going to miss her.”