COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A crowd is gathered in Beauregard tonight for an emotional homecoming- a young tornado victim is finally getting back to her community after weeks in the hospital recovering, both physically and emotionally.
11-year-old Kayla Grimes is coming home from University of Alabama Birmingham Children’s Hospital today.
She is the sole survivor from her Beauregard home- her father, stepmother, and best friend all lost their lives as the storms passed through the house.
Kayla suffered from major injuries including a broken femur, a crushed hip, a broken ankle and more.
She only remembers part of what happened that Sunday. “So me and Taylor, we went in the bathtub and we put our head down," Kayla said. "And the next minute I know I see the roof coming off and I don’t know what happened after that. I don’t know if I passed out but that’s all I remember.”
Her mother and stepfather were out of town visiting family when the storm passed through Beauregard. Michelle Gladden said they started to come back toward Lee County when they got word that the tornado came past Lee Road 38. “Then we got the word on the way home that Kayla was the only survivor and we went straight to the emergency room,” Michelle said.
Her sister Brooke says the Christian Motorcyclists Association and family built a ramp so Kayla can get her wheel chair into the house.
Her stepfather commented, “Beauregard isn’t a community, it’s a family.”
Along her route home, that family stood with balloons and banners showing their support. Kayla even saw a few familiar faces in the crowd, “They’re so nice and they were a friend of daddy’s. The man, the husband, he was a pastor and we went to his church almost every Sunday, daddy and usually Taylor would usually come visit him and his wife.”
Her sister also says Kayla has been in high spirits and “Beauregard strong” through this entire process.
“And I’m glad I made it through," Kayla said, "because I couldn’t have done it without everyone.”