Jeff Hunter, Killed In Arkansas Tornado Disaster, Sends Mother One Final, Heartbreaking Text Message

By Sean Breslin
Published: May 6, 2014

It's a text message no parent ever wants to receive.

On the night of Sunday, April 27, Regina Wood was at home in Beebe, Arkansas, as severe weather threatened nearby towns. One of those towns was Vilonia, where her son, Jeffrey Hunter, a college senior, was hiding from a tornado.

As many worried parents do during a severe weather event, Wood exchanged text messages with her son to make sure he was going to be safe. But each time she received a text, the message was more dire.

(MORE: Vilonia Among These Towns That Experienced a Recurring Nightmare)

"First he said, 'mama, I'm so scared,'" she told KNWA-TV. Then came a text message that read, "It's heading right for me."

Then, one final text that simply read, "Goodbye, mama...."

Once a tornado emergency was issued for Vilonia, Hunter warned others of the danger closing in on the town.


Hunter was hiding in a bathroom as the tornado hit Vilonia, according to the KNWA report. His father and stepmother were also in the home, and although both suffered serious injuries, they survived. Hunter did not.

(MORE: Student Dies Protecting Girlfriend From a Tornado)

As Wood mourned the loss of her son, she told KNWA she was comforted that Hunter thought to text her before the tornado hit. He was one of 16 deaths in the EF4 tornado that struck several towns, including Vilonia. It was the deadliest tornado to hit Arkansas since 1968, according to the National Weather Service in Little Rock.

MORE: Images of the Tornado Outbreak and Recovery

Charles Milam sits on a downed tree in front of what is left of his home where on Monday, April 28, 2014, he was injured by flying debris as he rode out a tornado in Tupelo, Mississippi. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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