Gilles Family Tornado Devastation Update

by Bobby Gilles

in Exhortations And Musings

The remnants of my brother Darrell's house, a few hundred yards from its foundation

The remnants of my brother Darrell's house, a few hundred yards from its foundation

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you probably know that tornados devastated Henryville, IN just north of Louisville yesterday. My brother Darrell, his wife Trish and two of their three kids (Caleb and Mia) are still in serious condition at Louisville hospitals. Their home and everything in it is gone, as is at least one of their vehicles. I’ve posted photos taken of their house after the storm yesterday, by our cousin Andrew.

They are all, miraculously, alive. It’s an incredible story, which I’ll share with you below.

First, many of you have asked how you can help. The number one thing is to keep praying. Although Kristen and I haven’t been able to respond to everyone individually due to the high volume of Tweets, texts and Facebook messages, we’re very grateful.

Most of our family live nearby, so Darrell, Trish and the kids will not be without places to stay when released from the hospital. And as of this morning, the family has received many clothing donations.

To make a monetary donation:

1. Deposit funds at PNC Bank for Darrell Gilles Catastrophic Relief Fund.

  • Acct Number: 3023866564
  • ABA/Routing Number: 083000108.

This was set up as a tax exempt account with an IRS IEN number. We were assured by PNC that the account is completely safe and only two people in the family have withdrawal permissions. No withdrawals can be made without identification and passwords. It has been red flagged for all transactions and is legally set up the way all memorial funds are set up. The account number and routing numbers are necessary for people outside the local area to be able to send relief funds.

2. If you’d prefer to mail a check, send it to Sojourn Community Church and write clearly “Gilles Family Tornado Relief” on the check:
Sojourn Community Church
930 Mary Street
Louisville, KY 40204

3. You can also donate securely online through Paypal, via our diasinger _ @ _ gmail account. In addition, all “tips” we receive for the “My Song In The Night” mp3 download will go to this Paypal account. To donate through Paypal, click here.

The house foundation, after the tornado damage

The house foundation

The injuries:

  • Our sister-in-law Trish has a shatterd pelvis. She also had a collapsed lung, wich has now been reenflated,and a shoulder injury.
  • Darrell has a punctured lung, and he broke many bones from the waist up: all of his ribs, jaw, a shoulder, clavicle and his sternum.
  • Their oldest son Caleb has some bruised ribs, and he broke his back in two places. They are clean breaks so they expect him to recover after six weeks in a back brace.
  • Their daughter Mia had a seizure on the way to the hospital last night, which doctors think was due to severe concussion. She also has a bruise on her liver. This morning they have pulled her off of the ventilator and she is responsive, breathing on her own.
  • Youngest son Collin is fine but for a couple bruises. He told me “I put on a baseball helmet.”
Mia, Caleb and Collin Gilles

Mia, Collin & Caleb Gilles, earlier this school year

The Story:

Just prior to the tornado, Darrell and Trish got the kids into an interior closet in their home (which did not have a basement). Trish lined the closet with cushions from their couches, and kept the kids there while Darrell checked outside. He saw the funnel heading straight for their house, and ran inside.

The tornado struck the house, lifted it off its foundation and carried it a few hundred yards. They all lost consciousness. When Darrell awoke he couldn’t find Trish, who apparently was trapped under rubble. He saw all three kids face down, unconscious.

To quote our friend Sarah on Facebook: “With every rib in his body broken, a broken shoulder and both sides of his jaw broken, he covered his three children with pieces of drywall to protect them from hail, & then carried them one by one to his grandma’s for safety” (Grandma lives a few hundred yards away. She is fine, and the only damage to her house was a couple smashed windows, and the loss of her garage roof).

He went back to the wreckage, and at some point he or others rescued Trish.

Meanwhile, My Other Brother …

My brother Scott also lives in Henryville, with his wife Emily, elementary-aged son Sammy and baby daughter Stella. Sammy was at Henryville Elementary School when the tornados hit, while the rest of them were in Jeffersonville. When the news broke that the school had been hit, Scott jumped in his car and speeded off to Henryville. The highway had been shut down, so he got as close as he could, parked his car on the shoulder, and ran the rest of the way to the school. Kids, don’t try that at home.

Scott found Sammy, who was fine. They live in a different part of Henryville than Darrell, Trish and our grandma. We don’t yet know the full extent of damage to Scott’s house, but believe it may be minor.

Again, thank you for all your prayers. We appreciate them and know that God is merciful and sovereign.


Karen Miller March 4, 2012 at 9:18 am

After the second tornado went through I started getting fire runs on my pager. Me and my boyfriend Chad took off running down the lane when we head Speith Rd. Chad went to Martins then ran to McReynolds. As we turned and looked acrost the field we saw the Gilles home. We noticed a few gentlemen throwing rubble and I heard what I thought was Mia screaming. When I ran up and got a closer look I found out it was Trish screaming. I stopped everything so I could do a quick assessment of her injuries and we loaded her onto a door and covered her from the hail. I stayed with Trish and talked to her. We got her into the back of a pickup truck and took off for town. Power lines and trees hampered our movement, but we made it to my driveway as a Sellersburg fire crew showed up. We sent Trish out as the Sellersburg truck led us into town past traffic. We made it to the four way in route to the fire dept. as we got to the four way I noticed several ambulances staging and waiting on injuries from the school. I yelled at a squad and had them bring a stretcher to get her to the hospital quickly. As an EMT I gave my assessment to the ambulance crew and loaded Trish onto the stretcher. I told Trish she was in good hands now and I loved her and I would check on her as soon as I could.

BJ WisemN March 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Bobby, this is BJ. I’m praying for your brother and his family. My granddaughter Brooklyn went to school with Collin. Please let me know if there is anything I can do other then prayer.
God Bless you all!!

BJ Wiseman March 4, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I meant BJ Wiseman.

Bobby Gilles March 4, 2012 at 5:59 pm

BJ; it’s good to hear from you. Small world. Thanks so much!

Karen, thanks for all the details. Incredible. Trish was very blessed to have you there. God bless you.

Kim Steadman March 4, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Bobby, So sorry to hear about the trauma your brother and his family endured. It truly is a miracle and praise be to God! We are praying for healing of their bodies and comfort from the pain. Thank you for sharing their story of survival.

Many blessings,
The Steadmans

Michael and Janet Eller March 4, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Having read the Tornado Update from Bobby Gilles our hearts go out for Gilles family – Prayers were said in our church this morning for the people of Henryville and for the other people of the tornado hit areas. The rest of the world is thinking of you all.

Mike and Janet Eller – Berkhamsted – United Kingdom

Grace Ensz March 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I could not help but think of how the love of a father drives him to do unimageable things for his loved ones. It spoke of the Father’s love to save us by doing the unimagineable. Thank you, brave and love-filled, fathers for doing what you did to save your families at a great risk and cost.

Brandon Clements March 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Wow, this is incredible. So glad they are all okay. Thanks Jesus.

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