CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines – A Filipina died in an attempt to save her son from the tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, on Sunday (May 22), the woman’s mother-in-law said Thursday.
Grace Aquino, 46, rushed to her 11-year-old son’s aid, embracing him before a concrete post hurled by the twister struck them, said Gloria Aquino on Thursday. She said her grandson, Jacob, 11, survived the ordeal.
“I saw my mommy’s death,” Mrs. Aquino quoted Jacob as saying when he gave her an account of the tragedy by long-distance telephone.
Grace and Jacob attended a church service when the tornado ravaged Joplin, she said.
Rizaldy Aquino, Grace’s widower, was working at the local rail yard on May 22 while their other children, aged 24 and 20, had gone to Kansas City to look for work.
Mrs. Aquino said Rizaldy described Grace’s body as “mangled.” The Philippine Daily Inquirer was told that Grace’s remains remain under the custody of a local morgue and would be released by the police once the family has completed documentary requirements.
Mrs. Aquino said Grace migrated to Missouri in 2002, a year after her husband arrived there in 2001. In their nine years stay in the American Midwest, Grace took on odd jobs to help support their family, she said.
In Guagua, Pampanga, Grace’s father, Armando Layug, said he was devastated by her death. Grace’s twin sister, Luz Villaruel, said her sister helped the family get by.
They have informed the Department of Foreign Affairs about Grace’s death.
News reports said a total of 124 people died in what was described as the deadliest tornado ever to hit the US in the last 60 years.