Photo: Eyewitness: Devastated

The tornado that touched down last Thursday (July 24) at Cherrystone Campground near Cape Charles, Va., left a New Jersey couple dead and their 13-year-old son still in a coma — and left a Rappahannock County family with some seriously traumatic memories, says Karen Sanborn, a teacher at Rappahannock County High School who, with her husband, Mark, 9-year-old son Quinn and 12-year-old daughter Galen, were staying at the campground when the morning storm arrived.

Photo by L. Todd Spencer for the Virginian Pilot
Photo by L. Todd Spencer for the Virginian Pilot

“We all huddled under the kitchen table,” she said. “The hail started breaking through the skylight, so it was raining inside the camper, it was really dark . . . After it was over, the whole ground was totally covered in hail, and just about every person there had a tree on their car or their camper or both. People came pouring out of their campers and started checking on each other. You could hear the sirens coming right way. It was unbelievable, really.”

The Sanborns’ trailer and car were intact — “I think we saw maybe three other families who were able to just drive out of there,” she said — and they were able to head home that afternoon, impressed beyond measure by the immediate aid offered by emergency responders and the community at-large. “I guess the worst part is for me, I keep thinking what could’ve happened. That’s the worst part. And then just realizing we are very, very blessed,” Sanborn said. “And . . . I’ve never been so happy to pull in to my driveway in Rappahannock County in my life.”

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