CLAY, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s a morning many in Alabama will never forget. In the wee hours of January 23, 2012 a tornado barreled through the Clay area, leveling homes and taking the life of Christina Heichelbech.
“The tornado lifted the roof of the house off,” remembered her father, Darrell Heichelbech. “And it knocked us [he and his son] to the ground. The whole second floor ended up in the backyard in the pool.”
The 16-year old junior at Jefferson County International Baccalaureate was found several feet from her father, still laying on her mattress. “She never woke up,” he said, fighting back tears. “She looked like she was sleeping.”
“It’s like you lose a part of yourself,” said her mother, Carol. “You think about your children all the time, but I never realized when someone is not physically in your life anymore, how much you can still think about them.”
They still think about their daughter, every day. Now, her memory has become their mission. “I truly believe, if we had a weather radio we would have had more time and been able to make it down to the basement, and she would’ve survived,” said her father.
He wants every home in Alabama to have a weather radio. Friday night, Christina’s brother, Josh, will be throwing out the first pitch at the Birmingham Barons game. Midland Radio Corporation, Academy Sports + Outdoors, and the Barons are teaming up to give out $10,000 worth of weather radios to fans.
Darrell Heichelbech says if they save only one life, it’s well worth the pain of sharing their story. “Get a weather radio,” he said. “It’s as important as having a smoke detector.”
2014 WIAT-TV CBS42