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Oklahoma tornado: Sixth victim in Woodward identified

The sixth person to die from the Sunday tornado in Woodward has been reported. Oklahoma authorities reported the death of Steve Peil, 63, Monday morning.
By JACLYN COSGROVE Modified: April 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm •  Published: April 16, 2012

— Among the piles of debris and pieces of wreckage that stretch about 1,000 feet in the mobile home park, it's easy to miss the small bunch of Mickey Mouse memorabilia.

But anyone who knew the 63-year-old Vietnam War veteran who lived at the mobile home park knows it belonged to Steve Peil, whose nickname was “Mickey Mouse.”

“To know Mickey Mouse was to love Mickey Mouse,” Peil's sister, Andrea Rush, said Monday. “Every life he touched was a blessing. There wasn't anything he wouldn't do for somebody. Never met a stranger a day in his life.”

Peil was the sixth person to die after an EF3 tornado sliced through Woodward on Sunday night.

Monday death toll includes two other men, Frank Hobbie and Derrin Juul, and three children.

The tornado demolished 89 homes and 13 businesses in western Woodward. At least 28 people were reported hurt, said Matt Lehenbauer, Woodward County emergency manager.

Arley Hutchison, the owner of Hide-A-Way Mobile Home Park, said the tornado destroyed nine mobile homes in the 15-acre park and damaged about four more that will have to be hauled off.

On Monday afternoon, it was obvious where the tornado hit, leaving behind it pieces of mobile homes and belongings from the families who lived at the park. The damage stretched about one-fifth of a mile.

On Monday, officials from state emergency agencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency toured affected neighborhoods, making preliminary damage reports.

They have finished assessing damage in Ellis County and the rural parts of Woodward County and have finished about half of the reports for the city of Woodward, Lehenbauer said.

There is no timeline for how long it will take for the decision to be made as to whether the federal government gives monetary assistance to Woodward residents.

Good-hearted man

On Monday, when Rush's son asked her to sit down, she told him “No.” Every time he tells her to sit down, it's because he has bad news to deliver.

“And that's when he told me that Mickey was gone,” Rush said.

Peil was a good-hearted man who loved helping children. He got the nickname “Mickey Mouse” from a motorcycle club for Vietnam veterans, she said.

Peil's services are set for 10 a.m. Wednesday, she said.

Volunteers helping

On Monday afternoon, Rush looked over at five volunteers who were sifting through what was left of her brother's mobile home, along with the mobile home of his neighbor who also died, Frank Hobbie.

“I greatly appreciate them, all of us do, not just me, but I'm speaking for all the friends and family I know,” Rush said. “I very much appreciate this because it's overwhelming; it's heart-wrenching — we lost a good man.”

The volunteers were Susan Turner, of Woodward, her daughter, Lauren Turner, and Lauren Turner's friends, Sara Acosta and Jezmyn Wallace. Timothy Walser, of Woodward, who had family living at the mobile home park, joined them.

Susan Turner, who lives in eastern Woodward, said she and her husband stood praying in their backyard, where they could see the tornado ripping through parts of Woodward, causing transformers to blow up and electrical lines to snap.

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The Woodward Salvation Army is running out of funds to help tornado victims, Matt Lehenbauer, Woodward emergency management director, said Monday morning.

How to help

Call 1-800-sal-army or visit and click "disaster" link.


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