Holton community remembers tornado victim - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Holton community remembers tornado victim

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As community members continued the process of cleaning up from the chaos of the tornado in Holton, friends and family members prepared to say goodbye to one of the men they lost in the storm.

"I ran straight to my bathroom cause that's where I've got a perfect view of Ron's house," neighbor Keith Swinney recalled. "When I looked out there his house was gone."

When the storm had passed Friday and his own family was safe in the basement, Swinnery raced across the road to the spot Ron Pickett's house used to stand. 

"We just started looking through the rubble and stuff trying to find him and unfortunately when we did he was gone," Swinney said.

Swinney says both Pickett and another neighbor taken by the storm died instantly.

"That's the only thing that I can have comfort," he said. "Thinking that they didn't suffer."

As neighbors searched through the rubble, Keith stayed with Ron.

"We prayed over him and I know I said a few words to him and stuff and whatever and told him I loved him," Swinney said with tears in his eyes.

For Keith, Ron was more than a neighbor.

"Every weekend we're together," he explained. "So there's times I feel like I spend more time with him than I do my own family and it's just like losing a member of your family."

Ron played base in Keith's band for eight years. An old video Swinney dug-up shows Pickett living out his passion on the stage.

"This is my dream too playing music. I've been to Nashville, I've been to places like that. You're alone there," Swinney said. "In this town me and Ron, we were heroes."

Before he passed, Keith wrote a song about what happens to a musician's legacy when he is gone and says he was able to play the song for Pickett a few months ago.

"People may think guys like me and Ron, we never made it, we never fulfilled out dreams," Swinney said. "But we really did. Ron did what he wanted to do. His dream came true."

He says the town he and Ron called home has been forever changed by the storm.

"This is my town. I've lived here forever and when I look outside and see all my neighbors gone it's just hard to believe," Swinney said.

"I don't know what's next. I'm always going to look out there and see those houses. It's just going to be tough," he said looking out the window at all the damage.

Officials in Holton say they are no longer accepting clothing donations, but are in need of other donations like towels and first aid items. People interested in helping out are asked to call the fire department for more information. 

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