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"Goodbye Mama", Final Text from Tornado Victim

Jeffrey Hunter, 22, of Vilonia stayed in touch with mother in Beebe during his final moments.
VILONIA, AR - Some of the April 27 tornado victims may have never had the chance to say goodbye. One young man, however, when fear set in as he waited out the storm in a bathroom, had the chance to send one final message to his mother. It's something she'll hold on to forever.

"First he said mama, I'm so scared," said Regina Wood, Jeffrey Hunter's mom.

All Wood could think to do was tell her son Jeffrey Hunter he would be okay.

"He knew how bad it was, these say it's going to be a direct hit," said Wood.

From her home in Beebe 20 miles away from her son in Vilonia, Regina could only update Jeffrey through text on where the EF-4 tornado was headed.

It was headed straight for him and he knew it, telling his mom goodbye.

"I have a text on my phone as the tornado was hitting "Goodbye mama," says Wood.

Minutes later a few homes down from Jeffrey on Clover Ridge Dr., Lyman Watkins had to crawl out from the closet he, his wife and five dogs were sheltering in.

"All you could hear was horns going off and people hollering help help," says Watkins.

It didn't take long for Watkins to find someone.

"I made my way, he was at that house right there," said Watkins.

Lying there unconscious on the ground was Regina's son. She hadn't heard anything from him since his last message.

"I kept saying are you okay? Are you okay? Let me know. Let me know. No answer," Wood recalled.

Jeffrey wasn't the only person to die in his Vilonia neighborhood. There are flags up for each one of the victims.

But despite the terror of losing her only son, Regina is comforted in the thought that Jeffrey, in the midst of panic and fright, thought to tell his mom goodbye.

Jeffrey Hunter was a senior at UCA. He was with his father and stepmother when the tornado hit. They were seriously injured.

Funeral services for Jeffrey are at 10 a.m. Saturday, at Roller-Mcnutt Funeral Home in Conway.
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