Tragedy strikes a Fairdale family after surviving the April 9 to - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Tragedy strikes a Fairdale family after surviving the April 9 tornado

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A portrait of Chris Thick with his family. Thick died in a forklift accident after surviving the Fairdale tornado. A portrait of Chris Thick with his family. Thick died in a forklift accident after surviving the Fairdale tornado.
FAIRDALE, Ill. (WREX) -

Less than a year after surviving the EF4 tornado, tragedy struck a Fairdale family again. This time, however, one family member wouldn't survive.

It can be hard to imagine the pain and destruction the Fairdale tornado caused wouldn't be the worst tragedy to ever hit Jackie Jordan's life. But at the time on April 9, 2015, it seemed like it. 

"We were in the car, we only made it one house down when we had to put it in park and lay on top of the kids to protect them from debris," Jackie said.  

Jackie, her fiance, Chris Thick, and their two young boys, Ryder and Oliver, rode out the  tornado inside a van. Miraculously, they all survived. 

"Once it cleared, we could see our neighbors house two doors down was completely gone. And that was, was kind of the shocker of, oh my God, that was actually a tornado. That just happened," she said. 

The couple was devastated. They lost everything in the storm; their home and most of their belongings were gone, but they still had each other. 

"He was my rock. We both cried a ton, very emotional, but then it was just very, we're safe, we're alive. The kids are safe," Jackie said, "We will get back on our feet, we will get back to where we were."

The months following the tornado, the couple did just that, moving into a nice home in Belvidere. 

"We felt like us again, we felt like we had our feet back on the ground," she said. 

But that ground was about to fall out right from underneath her feet. On February 16, 2016, Chris had an accident at work. He was crushed by a forklift that slipped unexpectedly. 

"It was just complete shock. Just disbelief. And I couldn't believe in any way, shape or form that it had happened. That he was gone," Jackie said.

"It was more devastating than the tornado for us."

Jackie had to say goodbye to the love of her life and explain to her two young boys that daddy wasn't coming home.

"Oliver, almost 3-years-old, knows, and we talk about it a lot because they ask where he is. Ryder, he has no idea," Jackie explained. "And what I did was just say, 'he got hurt and he had to go live in heaven.' When he  gave me the look of, 'what's heaven?' It was, 'well heaven's up in the clouds, so daddy's up in the sky now. He's always with us but we can't see him.'"

Jackie says she knows she and her boys made it through the tornado because of Chris. Not having him around for the one year anniversary is difficult, Jackie says.


(Chris Thick, who survived the April 9 tornado with his family, but tragically died in an accident close to a year later)

Jackie says he was the rock for the family and her family. Now, the role is forced to change.

"I know I have to be the rock for the kids and it makes me have to be OK with it," Jackie said.

Despite the difficulty of the April 9 anniversary, Jackie does have an anniversary, or two, in April to celebrate; her boys' birthdays. They were both born on April 10. 

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