Man dies shielding wife in bathtub during Iowa tornado

Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 2:30 AM CST
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MADISON COUNTY, Iowa (KCCI) - An Iowa couple hiding in their bathtub were flung 100 feet by a violent tornado. The husband died shielding his wife in what family members say was a final act of love that saved her life.

A flat, muddy field in all that’s left of Judy and Rodney Clark’s home of 20 years after Saturday’s violent tornado in Madison County, Iowa. Family members embraced in tearful hugs at the site Monday, remembering 64-year-old Rodney Clark, who died when the tornado hit.

“He was changing the brakes on his truck, and Judy came yelling at Rod, ‘You got to get inside. The tornado is coming,’” said Rhys Pate, the Clarks’ son-in-law.

Judy and Rodney Clark were married for 20 years. The latter died in a tornado while shielding...
Judy and Rodney Clark were married for 20 years. The latter died in a tornado while shielding his wife in what family members say was a final act of love that saved her life.(Source: Family photos, KCCI via CNN)

The EF-4 tornado slammed into the Clarks’ house, where they were hiding in a bathtub. The couple were sent airborne for 100 feet before they landed in a pile of rubble.

Judy Clark survived the incident, but Rodney Clark did not. His family says Rodney Clark had been lying on top of his wife in the bathtub to try to shield her from the impact. They believe it was this final act of love that saved her life.

“He laid on top of her and held her close and pretty much saved her life,” said Jase Brumfild, the Clarks’ grandson. “I just knew that that was him. That was something that he would definitely do.”

Married for two decades, Judy and Rodney Clark had a life full of joy. They loved dancing and riding horses and were never apart.

“They were inseparable, so I think she is just having a hard time processing how she was the quote-unquote ‘lucky one,’” Pate said.

A father of three and grandfather of nine, Rodney Clark’s legacy will live on in the memories he leaves behind.

“I am going to miss him so much because now, whenever I am going to have a wrestling tournament, it is not going to feel the same without him watching,” Jase said.

“He used to make everything fun, even if I was sad,” said Johannah Pate, the Clarks’ granddaughter.

Judy Clark hopes to rebuild the couple’s destroyed home. The family set up a GoFundMe to help, which has raised more than $11,000.

In addition to Rodney Clark, five other people died in Madison County during the tornado, according to the Associated Press. Four of the victims were members of the same family.

Officials identified them as 63-year-old grandmother Melissa Bazley, 37-year-old Michael Bolger and two of his three young children, 5-year-old Kinlee Bolger and 2-year-old Owen Bolger. Cecilia Lloyd, 72, was also killed in the storm.

A seventh death came from Lucas County, with officials identifying the victim as 40-year-old Jesse Theron Fisher.

Copyright 2022 KCCI via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved. Gray News contributed to this report.