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Woman remembers brother that was killed in the Utica tornado

Posted by wlpo on April 21, 2014

“A long, horrible night” That’s how Phyllis Mertes describes her memory of the April 20th, 2004 tornado that ripped through Utica killing her brother Jay Vezain.

Mertes says Vezain was on the balcony of the Milestone Tap when another sister heard sirens and told her brother to seek shelter. Rescuers say Vezain was one of the first people killed as he was trying to hold the tavern’s door shut.

Mertes says the hours after the tornado were surreal.  The coroner made the news about her brother official the next morning . She says Jay was quite a character and will always be with be with her.

To mark the 10th anniversary, Mertes says a brother from Texas and a sister from Arizona are coming in to spend time together. Mertes says she no longer takes any tornado watches or warnings for granted.

An interview with Phyllis Mertes is available on the WLPO AM and FM news page.

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