By Kevin Murphy
Kansas City, Missouri (Reuters) – A violent Halloween storm from the U.S. Gulf Coast to the eastern Great Lakes killed at least three people, two in Texas and one in Tennessee, and contributed to the overturning of a school bus in a rain-swollen creek in Kansas.
Strong winds and heavy rains swept through the region and wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour were still forecast for Friday afternoon in some regions.
The National Weather Service said it received 230 reports of high winds across 12 states from Louisiana to Pennsylvania, and reports of tornadoes in Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky and Illinois, although none did major damage.
In Nashville, a 9-year-old boy was electrocuted by a downed power line, according to Metro Nashville Police.
“It has not been determined exactly how he contacted the wire, which was knocked down by a large tree limb during high winds,” police said in a statement. Local television stations reported he was on his bike when he made contact with the wire.
Fallen power lines littered Tennessee in the wake of 40 to 50 mph winds, said Scott Unger of the National Weather Service in Nashville. Thousands lost power, officials said.
Another death in Tennessee was not related to the weather. A 4-year-old boy in White Pine, Tennessee, was killed by the family van while out trick-or-treating, according to local media reports. He apparently jumped from the open side door of the van and was run over by a back wheel.
Many towns and cities in the path of the storm had postponed trick-or-treating.
Two people died in Texas from the storm, officials said. One man’s body was found in a swollen creek in southeast Austin, said Travis County Sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade. Another man in the more rural nearby Caldwell County died after being caught in high water in his car, officials said.
“We have crews out searching for a couple of missing persons – a 32-year-old woman and her 8-month-old child, but we haven’t found them yet,” Wade said early Friday.
In rural south central Kansas, a school bus slid off a road and into a creek and flipped on its side, requiring the rescue of ten children and the driver, said Chris Davis, 911 director for Butler County. Water from the creek was over the low-lying road after heavy rain earlier Thursday, Davis said Friday.
Ten elementary school-age children climbed out the windows onto the side of the bus and were rescued by boats in fast-moving water, Davis said. One child was taken to the hospital with minor injures while the driver was hospitalized after suffering a back injury and hypothermia, Davis said.
“The water was about halfway up the side of the bus,” Davis said.
Winds moving through the Ohio Valley brought gust up to 50 mph in some areas overnight, felling power line and toppling trees. More than 25,000 residents in Cincinnati, Columbus and other Ohio communities lost power.
By midmorning on Friday, FirstEnergy, a major power provider in the region, reported 3,900 customers out in Ohio, 27,000 out in Pennsylvania, 10,000 in New Jersey and 12,000 out in West Virginia.