Tornados ripped through the American south on Monday, devastating populated areas and leaving at least 35 dead across four states. The heaviest storm damage was in Alabama and Mississippi, where bodies are still being recovered. In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, severe storms and tornadoes caused flash flooding and ripped roofs of homes.
Residents sought shelter wherever they could, fearing a repeat of the 2011 tornado which killed 50 people in the university town. In a house on the 1400 block of 22nd ave, medal winning University of Alabama swimmer John Servati was sheltering with his girlfriend.
Suddenly, a retaining wall in the basement collapsed on the couple. Servati was able to hold the collapse long enough for his girlfriend to escape. But the wall continued to give way, burying Servati, who put his companion’s life before his own.
Servati was taken to DCH Regional Medical Center where he later died. Today, teammates and members of the community are in mourning, describing the athlete and honor-roll student as a hero.