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Alabama mother of girl killed in storm says she kept praying as tree struck her

The mother of a young child who was killed after a tree fell on their roof during a heavy storm in Alabama last week has said her toddler was in her arms throughout the ordeal and she kept trying to wake her up.

Rosemary Allen said her toddler Journi Jones, who would have turned two next week, cried for a brief second and then shut her eyes. The 40-year-old kept trying to wake her daughter up.

“It [tree] crushed her on me. She laid on me until they could get her out,” she told Al.com, a local news outlet in Alabama.

Ms Allen was in the 10th Avenue West house with four other adults and five children on 21 July, when violent storms swept through the Birmingham area. During this storm, the tree tore through the roof and came crashing down in their house.

The woman dialled 911 and informed authorities that they were trapped and could not breathe.

She said she kept paying even as the tree was pressing down on her thigh and arm. “I just kept saying, ‘Lord, I can’t leave my kids here,’ and ‘My baby’s gone’, ‘Lord, keep me here so I can be strong for my other kids’,” she said.

Ms Allen said she kept screaming and tried her best to stay strong. “But the pain was so bad.”

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office said the crash killed another child, three-month-old Jalaia Ford, and injured three people, including Ms Allen’s 11-year-old son.

Officials took Journi and Jalaia to a hospital in Birmingham after the tree struck the home but doctors declared them dead that evening.

Ms Allen, who had four children in total, said her only daughter was a happy baby. “I have three boys and she was my only girl, so you know she was spoiled,” she said. “She was a real loving baby and would always give you hugs.”

She was staying at the house after her family lost everything in a fire at their apartment complex.

Battalion chief with Birmingham Fire and Rescue, Sebastian Carrillo, said rescuers had a tough time getting everyone out of the damaged premises.

“Because the structure is so unstable every time we move a foot the structure underneath is shifting. So we’re having to stabilise the structure as we move in, and it’s just really time consuming,” Mr Carrillo said.

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