Hours after Hurricane Michael left her home in ruins, Gayle Sweet refused to leave. Her husband’s body was still trapped in the rubble.
“Hopefully they (emergency crews) will be here soon, I’m not going anywhere until they bring him out,” she told CNN affiliate WFTS.
Sitting in a red pickup truck just feet away from the damaged home on Thursday, Gayle Sweet recalled the last moments they shared together.
Steven Sweet, 44, was killed as Hurricane Michael slammed the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday. The couple was on the front porch of their mobile home in Gretna, Florida, when the storm’s strong winds arrived, making dozens of trees around them lean sideways and crash to the ground.
They had just reached their front door in an attempt to take shelter, Gayle Sweet said, when an oak tree went down, smashing their home and landing on top of her husband.
“He started screaming ‘oh my God, oh my God’,” she recalled.
She was also trapped and could not help him.
“I told him ‘hold on, just hold on, I’m calling for help now,” she said, sobbing.
“I called my dad, they got over here and got me out, but he (Steven) was already gone by the time they got here.”
Her husband, she says, was laying on her lap when he died minutes later.
The couple had been married for 15 years and had lived in Gretna, a town of about 1,400 people in Gadsden County, for most of their marriage. Steven Sweet was a sales manager at a car dealership in nearby Quincy, Florida.
“He was one of a kind,” Gayle Sweet said.
Sweet’s body wasn’t retrieved until Thursday evening, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported, citing the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office.
The storm’s death toll has risen to at least 17 and is expected to climb. Sweet is among the eight people who have died in Florida. Five people died in Virginia, including four who drowned and a firefighter who died in a storm-related crash, officials said. Three people in North Carolina and a child in Georgia also died.