Rye Cove, VA Tornado Hits School, May 1929

Rye Cove School, submitted by Stu Beitler

School Ripped Apart In Twinkling of Eye

Rye Cove, Va., May 3 (AP) – Grief stricken parents searched the debris of the Rye Cove Consolidated school today, fearful of finding additional victims of the tornado that yesterday claimed the lives of 12 children and one teacher in the greatest disaster ever known to this Western Virginia mountain village.
Several children were reported missing early today, and because of the wide area from which the school drew its students, no complete check was possible.
Caught without warning as they were re-entering the two story frame school house after the noon recess, some of the children were blown 100 yards and others buried in the wreckage when the building was demolished by the storm.
Great confusion followed the tornado. Anxious fathers worked feverishly in the ruins, their anxiety for the safety of their offspring was intensified because many injured children had been hurriedly taken to hospitals, before the parents arrived.
MRS. MARY DARNELL, mother of two girls, could not learn the fate of her children for more than four hours after the storm. She broke down when told that one of the children, BERTHA MAE DARNELL, was dead and the other, HATTIE could not be found.
The body of MISS AVA CARTER, a teacher, was found 75 yards from the school. The body of POLLY CARTER, 14, was carried 50 yards.
A. S. NOBLIN, principal of the school, estimated that about 155 pupils were in attendance, in addition to the eight teachers. NOBLIN lost consciousness when hurled to the ground by the wind but was not seriously injured.
About 15 children, the most seriously injured, were taken in ambulances to Bristol and Kingsport while others were sent by automobiles, trucks and wagons to the nearest railroad station at Clinchport where a train was converted into a movable hospital to take them to Bristol. Twenty-seven children were transported to Bristol on this train.
The scene on the train was pathetic, many small boys and girls suffered in silence and bore with stoical calm their broken arms and legs. Some feebly attempted to carry on conversations with their attendants and one small girl fainted from the pain of a broken leg when placed in an ambulance. Identification tags were pinned to the children.
The Red Cross had taken over relief work today and the unit at Bristol was being reinforced from Washington and Cincinnati. Tetanus anti-toxin sent from Knoxville and nearby cities was administered to those suffering from laceration. All available physicians and nurses at Bristol and Kingsport were called into service. The list of known dead at Rye Cove follows:
CALLIE BISHOP, 10 years old, Rye Cove.
MONNIE BISHOP, 8 years old, Rye Cove.
AVA CARTER, teacher, 24 years old, Rye Cove.
JAMES CARTER, 12 years old, Rye Cove.
POLLY CARTER, 18 years old, Rye Cove.
LILLIE LEE CARTER, 12 years old, Clinchport.
BRUCE COX, 16 years old, Gate City.
BERTHA MAE DARNELL, 15 years old, Rye Cove.
GUY DAVIDSON, 18 years old, Rye Cove.
BERNICE FLETCHER, 8 years old, Rye Cove.
MONNIE FLETCHER, 14 years old, Rye Cove.
EMMA LANE, 6 years old, Rye Cove.
MILLIE STONE, 12 years old, Rye Cove.

The Syracuse Herald New York 1929-05-03