Katie Wilson was in her Woodridge home with her husband, Brian, and 4-year-old daughter Sunday night when her phone set off an alert that a tornado was about to touch down in their suburban community.
She started corralling her family to get them in the basement for safety. First her husband went down the stairs; then he grabbed their daughter. When it was her turn to run down the stairs, a tree crashed into their home and through their roof — landing on the mother.
Katie Wilson was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, where she underwent surgery for her severe injuries. She was also seven months pregnant with a baby boy, but the unborn child did not survive.
“She is a loving mother to her daughter and to her husband Brian,” Nick Vanek, her brother, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday. “She is a great sister to me and our other sister, an outstanding daughter and a teacher who works with special needs students. She is overall an outstanding individual.”
Vanek said Katie Wilson has since been air-lifted to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she has a team of doctors and specialists looking after her and to undergo more surgery. She was somewhat responsive for the first time Thursday morning since the ordeal, but she is still not aware that she lost her unborn child.
“The doctors are still monitoring her closely with the main goal of keeping her rested. We are just waiting for next steps right now,” Vanek said. “Brian [Wilson] hasn’t left her side since all of this happened and is at the hospital right now. He is staying strong as we all are.”
Her family has created a GoFundMe to help cover “mounting medical bills as well as funeral expenses for their unborn son.” They have already raised $78,240 of their $100,000 goal in just over 24 hours.
“It is so hard to put into words the amount of support and outreach we are receiving from friends, families and even strangers,” Vanek said. “It’s overwhelming, but in a good way, and shows how much of an impact Katie has had in other people’s lives, her community and area at large. We are just incredibly thankful.”
On Sunday just after 11 p.m., a tornado touched down near Route 53 and 75th Street in Woodridge, according to the National Weather Services. The tornado, with winds reaching 135 mph, also hit portions of Naperville, Downers Grove, Darien and Burr Ridge. Hundred-year-old trees were ripped from their roots, cars were smashed, roofs of homes were blown off and debris was launched thousands of feet into the air.
Fire Chief Keith Krestan, of the Lisle-Woodridge Fire District, confirmed that a person who fit Wilson’s description was transported by an advance life support ambulance following the tornado but couldn’t provide any more details to the Sun-Times.
In Woodridge, approximately 380 homes suffered some type of damage, with 156 homes having major damage and 28 homes were completely destroyed, according to village officials. There were also 6,429 power outages until about 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
The damage in nearby Naperville was just as bad, with 231 buildings having some damage. One home was destroyed, 19 were declared uninhabitable, 143 suffered major damage and 68 had minor problems.
Savita Patel, a Naperville resident in her 60s, was also found buried in debris from the tornado. She was taken to Edward Hospital in Naperville, where she remains in fair condition Thursday evening, a hospital spokesman said.
Vanek asked people to keep their thoughts and prayers with Katie during this difficult time.
“We are all very hopeful for the best possible outcome for Katie,” Vanek said.